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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Something of the night

The election is over and the recriminations begin. Sarko sunning himself off Malta on a friend's yacht is criticized both for this unapologetic display of luxury and also for choosing a top notch restaurant to celebrate his victory on Sunday evening before appearing on stage at the Place de la Concorde for a concert of celebration attended by many showbiz friends, and even - perhaps more surprisingly - by is wife.

Ségo was knifed in the back within moments of the result being officially confirmed by one of her reluctant lieutenants - the ceaselessly ambitious Dominique Strauss-Khan, who had at first put himself forward as the PS candidate, then declared himself available to be prime minister in a Royal administration and now - having rubbished the campaign he was supposed to be an integral part of - declares himself willing to become the new leader of the socialist party. Methinks he does self-sacrifice too much.

Somehow the question most needing an answer is left hanging in the air losing neither its freshness nor its pertinence. How has Sarko managed to convince a majority of the French electorate that he is now suddenly a more effective Sarko than the man who over the last five years has held considerable power in government? Plus ça change?

He is a good speaker - better than Royal though she was improving from her rather wooden beginnings - and a bit of a charmer. He exudes power and competence and has answers and solutions to everything that is thrown at him albeit in a rather pat fashion. He has more than enough confidence - that has never been in doubt- but as Ann Widdicombe famously commented about the equally suave Michael Howard, there is something of the night about Sarko.

To listen to the commentators and to the supporters of this president elect the mere fact of his election has somehow transformed the fortunes of the land. One thing is certain and that is the fortunes of the rich will be multiplied - not a bad thing as wealth creates jobs creates spending power etc etc - and yet his promise to be the president of the whole of France is just words. It will only be once actions have been taken and the nation has proof of his intentions that we will see who exactly is part of Sarkozy's France.

Royal warned that there might be protests should Sarkozy be elected and she was proven right. Of course those who should know better interpreted her words as a call to revolution and yet anyone who had bothered to visit the poor districts of Paris or any large town in France would know that the protests were either born of desperation that the man who epitomises in their eyes a France whose doors are firmly shut to them, or they were extremist anarchists who riot given any small reason.

We breath a collective sigh of relief with the news that that Petit Nicolas's election has persuaded the godfather of French pop/rock, Johnny Hallyday, to return from his self-imposed tax exile in Switzerland. The latter land being the alternative to the preferred Belgium where Johnny declares his heart to reside. Johnny's fragrant fourth wife Laeticia was the bringer of these glad tidings.

This is democracy and the right wing have secured another period of officer for their general. Time will tell whether parliament will be more balanced and will be able to provide more of a check to the president's ideas. Rarely in recent history has the reality of capitalism been quite so laid bare. President Sarkozy has promised a land where all have opportunities, all have rights and alongside those rights, obligations (so often ignored by the often least articulate who maintain their rights most vociferously ). Bravo monsieur le président. The right and opportunity of the workers will be to work more and earn more. The right of the elite and of business will be to keep more of what they already make in profit and in investment. That is not his fault but maybe it is the challenge of a fair and just presidency ie to give those who have least the most opportunities accepting that those with more can probably manage alone or certainly with less help. Being seen to be the champion of the more needy than the friend of the greedy could be the proof that France really needs.