This blog has discussed the internal political situation in France quite a few times recently. Including the way that domestic politics are interfering in the referendum on the EU constitution. On that note, the Instapundit links to a nice summary of the situation and some interesting quotes about Nicholas Sarkozy which make him seem to be almost the ideal future leader of France.
This is where I disagree. To put it simply Sarko is the best of a bad lot. Sarko is, in my opinion, the best national politician in France, but while I admit he shows enviable energy, communication skills and intelligence, I do not think he is as perfect as some people hope. Take the claim that he is the best national politician in France - this is not a very high accolade since the competition from l'Escroc and his flunkies and mainstream opponants is pretty weak. I do in fact believe that l'Escroc Chirac himself is to blame for the otherwise low quality of right-wing politicians since he has been dominant for so long and intolerant of competent rivals - he tried to hand Sarko one poison chalice after another and it shows Sarko's skills that he managed to emerge from these challenges with his reputation enhanced - however Chirac has had less influence on the left-wing and there too the political leadership shows all the charisma of a brick and, it has to be said, little more intelligence. The fact that the socialists were unable to comprehend the real impact of their 35 hour week shows how little they understand about basic economics - or maths.
Sarko is almost certainly less tainted with corruption than most of his peers, in part due to his relative youth, and he is certainly far more telegenic than most of them. He also compares well to l'Escroc because he doesn't condescend to the electorate. The EU constitution debate has shown l'Escroc at his most sneering, both externally when he managed to get the Services directive cut last month and internally when he lectured the "randomly chosen but screeened" young people on TV a couple of nights ago. However while Sarko is far more appealing than Chirac personally and far more intelligent than the socialists he is by no means the sort of free-market friend of America that Will seems to be hoping for.
So what is wrong with Sarko? well firstly he is still very statist. In order to ameliorate public anger while finance minister he decreed that supermarkets would cut prices on a certain amount of produce and the supermarket chains did so. Perhaps worse, he seems to be typically French in his lack of morals and principles. While he was justice minister he was quite happy to embrace the French police tactics that caused Amnesty International to be extremely critical. He also seems to be quite adept at the slopey shoulders techniques of letting blame fall upon underlings while ensuring that success is credited to him. This is not much different to politicians all over the world but it does not help to inspire loyalty and could lead him, some years down the road, to emulate l'Escroc in doing his best to sideline talented juniors. I believe that he does recognise that France needs to reform its economy dramatically in order to survive and he certainly understands that the Chirac policy of anti-Americanism under almost all circumstances is short-sighted. Yet neither of those means that he will be a sort of french Margaret Thatcher when (if) he comes to power. He is still likely to be distrustful of America and les Anglo-Saxons and he is still likely to push the EU in ways that benefit France but not the rest of us.
He will also undoubtedly have to make compromises with others within Frace that mean that even when he sees long term advantages in doing something that helps others he may not do it because it provides short term advantage within France. The EU constitution is clearly one of these cases. There is, as I see it, absolutely no chance that the EU constitution could possibly be renegotiated in a way that is more advantageous to France than the current one and I doubt that the EU, without a constitution, will be better either - in fact I suspect that rejection of the EU constitution may herald the high-tide of European integration under the traditional French inspired model; yet Sarko is not going all out to get the French electorate to vote "Oui" because his presidential ambitions are better served by a "Non".
As with American support of Tony Blair, support of Sarko needs to be tempered with caution. Yes he is probably the best bet but he is nowhere near perfect and it would be dangerous to delude ourselves otherwise.