Charlemagne at the FT, on Sarkozy

“The big political event in Europe over the weekend was a speech given in Marseilles by Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s interior minister and the right’s standard-bearer for the French presidency in next year’s elections. [...] Le Monde thinks that Sarkozy’s speech marked a sharp move to the right, [...], heaping praise on the United States for its social mobility and entrepreneurial energy. Perhaps Sarkozy has noted that the French are actually more ambivalent about the United States than they sometimes pretend,” writes Gideon Rachman on his blog at The Financial Times.

Gideon joined the FT last July. He spent the past years in Brussels as the Brussels correspondent of The Economist, where he wrote the influential “Charlemagne” column, currently being continued by his successor. Before his spell in Brussels he was the Washington correspondent of The Economist. Gideon is an expert in American foreign policy as well as EU affairs.

Another interesting comment on Sarko is Helen Szamuely’s blog article on EUreferendum. She writes: “One must never forget that Nicolas Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian [...]. He is also, interestingly enough, not an enarque, having attended the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (SciencePo) without graduating, rather than the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, the alma mater of almost the entire French political class.” It makes him an outsider of the French political class, and that is exactly what French voters are clamouring for. The same clamour can be heard all over Europe, by the way.

Ségolène Royal, the prima donna of the French Socialist Party, is an outsider of the political class as well. She is from a right-wing military family (her father was an army officer and her brother was one of the French secret service men who sank the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior in July 1985) and her no-nonsense approach to law and order issues is refreshing. I deem it unlikely, however, that Ms. Royal will become the presidential candidate of her party. If she would, I think she would be able to defeat Sarkozy, bringing a Royal to the Elysée Palace instead of a Hungarian.