“French opinion really is changing,” said Nicolas Baverez, an economist and author. “People understand that we must make radical changes if we are to continue to have an influence in the world.”
The extraordinary popularity of Sarkozy — “Sarko” — who is competing with Dominique de Villepin, the aristocratic prime minister, to succeed Jacques Chirac as president next year, is one measure of a revolution already under way in a country often described as allergic to change.
Another factor promoting the shift is France’s recent run of turbulent events, from the rejection of the European Union constitution to the loss of the 2012 Olympics and the rioting that broke out in many French cities late last year.
The French may be renowned for whingeing about their woes but these calamities have bolstered the doctrine of doom-mongering to such a degree that worried politicians have given it a name: “declinology”.
The “high priest” of this movement is Baverez and his disciples are multiplying, along with gloom-laden tomes decrying a brain drain and loss of faith in politicians and judges.
Their central tenet is that France, with its centralised state and high unemployment, has been overtaken by neighbours such as Britain — and even Spain — while arrogantly proclaiming the superiority of its outmoded social model.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
It sounds like one result from the riots in the French banlieues last year will be the election of Nicolas Sarkozy when Chirac finally leaves the scene and the enactment of tougher immigration laws in France.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 10:40 PM