The French electorate preferred Nicolas Sarkozy as President of the Republic over the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal. Their preference for Sarkozy clearly showed that they want a right-wing government. Will they get what they voted for? It seems less likely by the day.
In his victory speech on election night (6 May), Sarkozy stated that his “primary battle” will be “against global warming […] because what is at stake is the fate of humanity as a whole.” Frenchmen who had expected that Sarkozy’s first priority would be to reassert the authority of the Republic over its lost territories, where criminals and/or Islamist fundamentalists hold sway, will have to wait until their President is able to beat the sun. Let us hope for a cold, miserable summer in France this year. Perhaps that might bring Nicolas Sarkozy back to his senses.
Then, last Wednesday, in his inaugural address, the new President announced that he is “going to fight for a Europe that protects, because the meaning of the European ideal is to protect the citizens of Europe.” Unfortunately, protecting the French citizens in the Republic’s lost territories, or “zones urbaines sensibles,” seems less important than protecting the citizens of Europe against “the ravages of globalization.”
Today, Sarkozy presented his new government. He has chosen the maverick socialist Bernard Kouchner, a former minister under Mitterrand and “Europe’s most important humanitarian-activist politician [...] on issues from Kosovo to AIDS,” as his Minister of Foreign and European Affairs – a “bold choice” according to the BBC. Kouchner, though supporting the war in Iraq, is a liberal.
It is worth pondering whether Ms Royal, had she won the elections, would have appointed a right-winger or a maverick conservative as Foreign Minister. The answer undoubtedly is no. If people vote for the Left they get a leftist government. If in France they vote for the Right they get a partly leftist government, too.