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Curiouser and curiouser

An article from Tuesday's Financial Times.  From an American perspective, it seems very odd to see a senior government minister openly attack his own PM this way without apparently feeling any need to resign on principle from the government.  

Nicolas Sarkozy's wolfish grin seems wider than usual.  No doubt he is smiling because of the rapturous welcome at Douai, in northern France, from thousands of supporters as he steps up to deliver a speech on his new slogan "For a Fairer France", marking the start of his campaign for next year's presidential elections.

Yet France's interior minister may also be chuckling as he thinks of prime minister Dominique de Villepin, his main presidential rival on the centre-right, who is preparing to face a "black Tuesday" of strikes and protests, expected to be the toughest test of his premiership.

Spurred on by chants of "Nicolas, Nicolas, Nicolas", the head of the ruling UMP party launches into a high-octane speech for more than an hour, peppered with jibes at Mr. de Villepin for bungling an attempt at loosening France's labour laws to tackle crippling high unemployment.

"We could have avoided this crisis that brings no good to France, its image or its economy," says Mr. Sarkozy, adding that he would have opened a dialogue much earlier with "social partners", unions and business leaders.

His criticism is finely balanced over Mr. de Villepin's controversial first-job contract, which would let companies sack young people more easily during a two-hear trial.  He cannot be too aggressive, as he is a leading supporter of "rupture", or a break with France's over-protective social model.  Too much criticism and he would be seen as not only disloyal to the government of which he is a senior member but also unfaithful to his own beliefs.

Some aides in the "Sarko" camp suspect that Mr. de Villepin may still be hoping that. by sticking to his guns over his unpopular labour reform, he can impose his credentials as a reformer and strengthen his power base on the right.

To combat this risk of being overtaken on the right, Mr. Sarkozy's speech last night at Douai is packed with proposals designed to appeal directly to his core electorate.

Tighter immigration controls, a crackdown on drug users, scrapping inheritance tax, stiffer criminal charges for minors and tax incentives for first-time house buyers are all ideas designed to win over the centre-right voters Mr. Sarkozy needs to see off any challenge from Mr. de Villepin in the first round of the 2007 ballot.

He even reaches out to voters for the far right National Front, saying:  "Stop going towards this dead-end of the National Front, come back to the republican parties, we have woken up and decided to start talking about the subjects that concern you.


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
We're so very very screwed.
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC)
Well, just so long as the two of them don't battle to the death and then let someone like Le Pen slip in.
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
Maybe Segolène could step in... more females in politics! *\o/*

(Speaking of interesting politicians, it's looks like the Italians continue to be screwed...)
Mar. 29th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)
Silvio is ... words fail me. That's partly the reason I haven't done anything yet to get him in the game. How do you make a caricature of someone who already is one in real life? Well, let's see what happens with the elecions.

Btw, I see you showed the Silvio-frolicking-in-Nature icon to Tavi. I wonder if her reaction was similar to mine ("my eyes! my eyes!"). LOL

Hey, remember a few months ago when we were talking about getting Yulia in the game. Were we prescient, or what? You want to take her on if she becomes PM?
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 29th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aswanargent - Mar. 29th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 29th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dominiquelechic - Mar. 30th, 2006 08:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 30th, 2006 08:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aswanargent - Mar. 30th, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aswanargent - Mar. 30th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 30th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aswanargent - Mar. 31st, 2006 01:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 31st, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 29th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
Il faut baiser ce petit salaud!!!!
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC)
What did you smash this time?

Maybe he's the one who needs to go on the fact-finding mission to Omsk....
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
I will smash ze ambitions of zat little bastard! God knows why I zought I could count on him. He's such a treacherous little coward! In fact, I told him so today during cabinet.
Mar. 29th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC)
I don't think the situation actually changes anything -those who're fighting De Villepin won't be voting for Sarkozy, believe me.

IMO, De Villepin was screwed from the beginning: he's at a big disadvantage here (I'm not talking about him being the arrogant prick he is, not that) because he's never been elected anywhere so he lacks the necessary contact with people -something Sarkozy has. In my opinion, he's already out of the picture as far as 2007 is concerned.

On the other way, I'm not sure the situation is helping Sarkozy a lot. He's not been very good, as a minister of the interior at maintaining safety and security during the demonstrations until now. And from a broader POV, his safety margin is very narrow. If he goes on reaching out to the Ntional Front voters, he'll lose some of his supporters from the center-right. Plus he has a *big* handicap: young people dislike him; really do for most of them.
The real problem isn't so much what Sarkozy will do or not -it's the complete absence of any worthy opponent. As the French saying goes "chez les aveugles, les borgnes sont rois".
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
Is Segolene (meh! library computer which won't let me add languages) a credible candidate, do you think? I'm starting to see more coverage of her by the English-language press.

Do you think that Dominique will manage to hang on as PM if the protests against the CPE continue?
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)
Ségolène? mwaaaaah! Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude.
Hum. Ségolène didn't have a single idea of her own since she's been born + she's absolutely unbearably stiff and psycho-rigid.
Please! Not her!

And I think that yes, D. will hang on as long as Chirac asks him to. I don't see him resigning soon -it's not something anyone talks about and if he does, it means that the whole government will resign too, so it's a little difficult.

Don't forget! Villepin is the one who fucked up, already, more than ten years ago, when he advised Chirac to dissolve the assembly -then Chirac lost the elections.
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
I did not 'fuck up'. It was Alain Juppé's fault for being unelectable.
Mar. 29th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, sure. Denial is *so* Villepin.
(no subject) - dominiquelechic - Mar. 29th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aswanargent - Mar. 29th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 29th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
You guys have to vote for someone! If not Villepin and not Sarkozy, and not Segolene, (and certainly not Le Pen), who else might be a candidate? Jack Lang perhaps? Or Segolene's partner (whose name escapes me at the moment.)
Mar. 29th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC)
Francois Holland. And don't make me laugh.
Mar. 29th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
That's what I said, we're so very very screwed. Not because of what everybody seemed to have thought I was meaning but just because we have no viable candidate for the presidency so we're stuck with no choice or all bad choices. We're just screwed.
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 29th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazybutsound - Mar. 30th, 2006 08:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 30th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazybutsound - Mar. 30th, 2006 09:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 31st, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazybutsound - Mar. 31st, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenni_snake - Mar. 31st, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dominiquelechic - Mar. 30th, 2006 08:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazybutsound - Mar. 30th, 2006 08:34 am (UTC) - Expand
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )