Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy, The 6th Son of the 5th Republic

Finally the results of the French presidential elections came out a couple of hours ago to announce Nicolas Sarkozy, 52 years old former minister of interior, as the winner with more than 50% of the total votes. A lot of people expected Sarkozy to be the winner, mainly because of his tough grip on dealing with internal problems in French (2005 riots on the superb of Paris), but above that his preparation and conduct during this campaign compare it to the way his contender, Segolene Royal, did. Therefore, tonight’s results was no surprise to me or to any other person!

However, there are a couple of interesting observations about Mr. Sarkozy; First of all, in a country like France where its people are very proud of their nationalism and French identity, here we have a president who is originally from a Hungarian father and a Greek mother. Despite this fact, more than the half of the French population voted for him.

The second interesting observation is the sort of a contradiction nature French society has shown during these elections, becuase everyone realizes how Sarkozy represents the departure form the Digol school, which former president Jacques Chirac, for example, and all his predecessors have been always loyal to around the years. Sarkozy made it clear during his campaign that “deep change” must begin in France. A strong figure like of Sarkozy’s can serve many purposes for French people. I have been in France during the last elections, and most of people I talked to during my visit told me that the reasons for voting mainly because of the danger that this candidate or the other might put to their society i.e. not because they believe in the ideology or the agenda or the personal qualities of the candidate. The same thing happened this time, but not with the same scale 5 years ago. Thus, a lot of people are afraid of Sarkozy, and they might voted for Royal instead to diminish the chance foe Sarakozy to win. Part of some people’s fear is related to the expectations for the future, especially with a president who’s known for his high temper, which might make great impact regarding important decision an influential country in the world like France can make.

One thing for certain is that the French are fed up and they want change, and in that case, nationalism can have less than the highest priority. They voted for someone this time whom they have from him a lot of expectations.

On foreign affairs track, there were two messages Sarkozy sent immediately after his win; the first is to ensure the United States that France is taking a new direction and that the US can count or rely on its French friends. The second thing Sarkozy’s call for all countries around the Mediterranean sea to follow a new policy of unity and working together - Sarko is loud about his objection to Turkey joining the EU because he consider it as an Asian country more than anything else, but he offers strong trade and economic partnership! Both message send vague signals because many questions will be asked; one is related to Lebanon and the responsibility especially after last year’s war against Israel, not to forget the speculations of a new era of a new relationships with the Jewish state - his statement about the deep friendship with Israel during the elections campaign made most, if not all French Jews, vote for him. The other question is related to the relationship with north African countries like Algeria and how this relationship will result, especially with the impact on the existed Algerian community in France itself – partially a problem within French society. Last but not least is the relationship with the United States: On which way the United States will rely on its French friends? Will France finally help the US in its crisis in Iraq? And how? Sending finally troops to Iraq?

One thing for certain: Sarkozy is very motivated, energetic and offensive of a kind during his time as the minister of interior, but will this be the case during his presdency? He want for sure to show the heavy weight of a France among all countries in the world in more effective way, but the future will show how!

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