Nicolas Sarkozy, as promised, met with the press, 600 members strong, for over two hours on Tuesday morning in the ballroom of Elysée Palace. First, the BIG SCOOP: he does intend to marry model-turned-singer Carla Bruni (a member of the gauche caviar – a “limousine liberal” as Americans would say), but the date will be announced after they are married. In other words, it’s none of our business. For more you can read this Telegraph article.
Second, he expanded on a notion he had introduced on December 31, when he presented his New Year’s wishes to his people, namely, the “politics of civilization.” No one knew what he meant by this term, borrowed from left-wing sociologist Edgar Morin, but it seems that he wants to reestablish points of reference, norms, rules criteria. “We must fight the blunders and excesses of our own civilization.”
One of these “blunders” is the preponderance of television ads. Nicolas Sarkozy intends to look into the possibility of eliminating advertising from public television (i.e., national channels): “I hope to re-examine in depth the means of financing public television, and to consider the total elimination of commercial advertising on national channels.” He suggested two ways of funding the national channels: a tax on private channels’ advertising revenues or a tiny tax on the revenues of new communications industries, such as Internet access or cell phones.
He said that national television could not function “according to purely mercantile criteria.” “This is a revolution which, by changing the economic pattern of national television, will change completely the basis of cultural politics in our information-age society.”
Another blunder to correct is the 35-hour work week instituted by socialist Martine Aubry (Jacques Delors’ daughter) in 1998. While he had long ago stated his desire to get around the existing laws, he went further yesterday, arousing the ire of labor leaders and other socialists and communists. Sarkozy’s special adviser Henri Guaino insisted there was “nothing new.” “The legal work week will remain 35 hours, but it will be possible, branch by branch, business by business, with accords agreed upon by the majority, to get around (“déroger”) the rule. If there is no agreement, the 35-hour rule applies automatically... For this year.” He added that discussions will take place on the law “in the coming months.”
If the Left cried “treason!” at the announcement, the liberals (i.e., free enterprise advocates) greeted the news favorably.
Believing that the French “can no longer tolerate the growing gap between the statistics that describe a continuous progress and the difficulties they experience in their daily lives,” Nicolas Sarkozy wants to “change the criteria of judgment” on economic matters. He has therefore engaged two Nobel Prize winners in economics, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, to examine how to change the instruments for measuring growth.
As for the city of Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy has big plans. At his press conference he brought back into the limelight his idea of a “Greater Paris” (“Grand Paris”), linking the capital and the suburbs. He promised to get personally involved in the project, thus defying socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë who is seeking a second term:
“I will not allow this plan to drag, I will not allow anyone to block it. [...] The Parisian urban center has become unacceptable. Paris must recover its vitality, its world-wide appeal, its attractiveness, its creativity.” In June Mr. Sarkozy had already expressed his regret that Paris “is the only area of dense population in France with no urban community.”
I have no idea what he means by “urban community.” Could he be saying that Paris is lacking in large numbers of immigrants, who usually congregate in the suburbs? Hence, his desire to redraw the boundaries of Paris to include some suburbs – but which ones?
The president defended his policy to expel illegal immigrants. “It is not about inhumanity, it’s about the rule of law. A State governed by laws requires you to be documented. The system of quotas will be put into effect in accordance with our capacity for absorption and integration. [...] I will not allow it to be said that we treat undocumented aliens as if they were criminals. It isn’t true.”
He also indicated that both Spain and Italy were proceeding to expel large numbers. “If Spanish socialists and Italian socialists do it, don’t you think France should also?”
I suppose one could infer from that that if the socialists don’t do it, it isn’t worth doing???
According to a summary in Le Figaro, Sarkozy also wants to modify the preamble to the French Constitution in order to “guarantee the equality of men and women, to ensure the respect for diversity, to make possible a true policy of integration, and to respond to the challenges of bioethics.” He has asked Simone Veil to “preside over a committee in charge of working out a first draft.” “This is so that in terms of philosophical, moral, and ethical problems, our Constitution is ahead of its time and not behind,” he justified.
On the issues of GMO’s Nicolas Sarkozy is willing to “make use of the safeguard clause,” if there are serious doubts about those products grown in France. “I’m ready to use caution, until the European Commission makes a decision on the problem.”
I take that to mean he will not produce GMO’s in France if doubts exist as to their safety.