How France’s Left forced me to like Sarkozy

The strategy of Olivier Ferrand and his Terra Nova think tank helped François Hollande to the French presidency. Ferrand says that the PS strategy was ‘in reaction’ to ‘Sarkozyisme‘.

Of course, they had help from the left-wing press which had for many years — even before 2007 — criticised Nicolas Sarkozy non-stop. Everything about him was up for demonisation: his watches, his jogging, his links with Neuilly-sur-Seine, his choice of restaurant, his divorce, his remarriage, his holidays, his cabinet ministers. The list was endless.

Was it because Sarkozy is the son of an immigrant? Surely, a number of leftist journalists in France are children of post-Second World War immigrants and/or are pro-immigration themselves. As such, they should have ideologically supported the son of an immigrant as President of France on principle alone. Cognitive dissonance, perhaps?

Was it because Sarkozy appointed a cross-party group of cabinet ministers in 2007? Bernard Kouchner — longtime PS minister turned independent — was one of Sarkozy’s first appointments as Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. He remained in that post for three years. Surely, Kouchner’s appointment and those of other non-UMP ministers should have delighted the Left. Didn’t these show that Sarkozy was open to all political perspectives?

Was it because Sarkozy was the first French president to appoint minority women to cabinet positions? Rama Yade was born and raised in Senegal. She credits Nicolas Sarkozy’s ‘charisma’ as a factor in her joining the UMP. Yade served in three different cabinet posts between 2007 and 2010. Fadela Amara, former president of Ni Putes, Ni Soumises for minority women living in the macho banlieues, is a PS member who served as a minister in Sarkozy’s administration since 2007.  Rachida Dati is a UMP member who served as the Minister of Justice — Garde des Sceaux (Keeper of the Seals) — between 2007 and 2009 before moving on to the European Parliament where she serves as a UMP deputy.  Surely, France’s egalitarian Left should have been very happy with that?

But, no, all France heard and read was a daily diatribe against the now-outgoing Président de la République.  For the aforementioned reasons, it doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, after reading mostly left-wing French publications and listening to RMC’s left-of-centre polemicists, I can conclude only that Nicolas Sarkozy was not as bad as they painted him out to be.  In fact, my position moved dramatically: from disliking him intensely ten years ago, I started to actually admire him two years ago. An own-goal by the left-wing media?

Nicolas Sarkozy was far from perfect and forgot the electorate he so assiduously courted on many occasions, but he is certainly not guilty of what Terra Nova’s Olivier Ferrand accuses him of being: fostering a ‘radical’ and ‘extreme right-wing’, encouraging a fear of immigrants, appointing ‘racist’ ministers, pitting one social group against another — and, as with the rest of France’s leftists, his list of complaints is endless.

The media buzz right now is whether Sarkozy should have the traditional post-presidency perks of salary and security detail. As far as I’m concerned, with all the personal attacks he’s had to put up with over the past five years (and more), he’s earned every penny.

3 comments for “How France’s Left forced me to like Sarkozy

  1. OzExPat
    May 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Left & Right are blurred in France owing to the overwhelming need for national chauvinism to be the defining quality of their politics. Sarkozy was no friend of traditional Western values, unless by coincidence such values aligned with French interests.

    Hollande and the French deserve each other. His election will hasten their collective demise.

    • May 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      It seems the lines are less blurred than before. Sarkozy wasn’t the best, I’ll admit, but neither was Chirac, Mitterand, Giscard d’Estaing or Pompidou. By that point, we’re into the late 1960s, just after De Gaulle.

      Agreed — any nation voting for a Socialist deserves the leader (and consequences) it gets. ‘Flanby, anyone?’

  2. May 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    An afterthought — and for consideration as a further rebuttal to the Socialist/Terra Nova memes:

    1/ Valery Giscard d’Estaing (Conservative) was responsible for the legislation allowing immigrant families to be reunited with their husbands/fathers in France in the 1970s.

    2/ Nicolas Sarkozy wanted France to fund mosque construction. If I remember rightly, he was reminded of the 1905 law on a laicised republic and backed down.

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