“I won’t cheat, I won’t disappoint, I won’t betray,” – those were the promises made by Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president-elect, shortly after the results of the French presidential election were formally announced. The French president is elected for five years. Sarkozy will take over from Jacques Chirac on May 16.
There were no compelling reasons for Sarkozy to make such solemn promises right after the news about his emphatic victory broke nationwide. Yet Sarkozy made his promises, and the timing does not seem to have anything to do with euphoria caused by the news. The outcome of the election became quite clear several days before it took place. Most analysts predicted that Sarkozy would win the majority of the ballot. Therefore, Sarkozy had enough time to carefully calculate what he would say or do shortly after 8 p.m. by Central European Time on May 6, 2006.
That is probably the reason why a conciliatory Sarkozy did not hesitate to reach out to those who voted for Segolene Royal, his Socialist rival in the election. Sarkozy promised to be president of all the French, president of the entire nation. That is probably the reason why he telephoned Royal, the defeated candidate of the Socialists, prior to throwing a party for the few chosen ones. That is probably why he bothered to remind the public that Jacques Chirac would remain France’s full-fledged president until May 16, whereas he, Nicolas Sarkozy, would go out of sight, would temporarily disappear in order to give another thought to his plans.
“I won’t cheat, I won’t disappoint, I won’t betray.” The life of the president-elect of the Fifth French Republic has been rich in cheatings, betrayals and disappointments.
Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has been striving throughout his life to prove his right to be a Frenchman. He is no stranger to acting deceitfully towards his friends and superiors. His biggest betrayal took place during the 1995 presidential election. Sarkozy, Chirac’s hand-picked favorite, suddenly switched over to Eduard Balladur, another presidential candidate. Eventually, Chirac was elected president for the second term. From Chirac’s point of view, Sarkozy had committed act of outright disloyalty. Chirac never seemed to forgive the man who would be chosen by history to succeed him in office. There was yet another betrayal or unfaithfulness, shall we say. Cecily, Sarkozy’s wife, was found cheating on her husband. Needless to say, the tabloids spread the story far and wide. Some members of his UMP party even dared play a joke or two on Sarkozy, saying that the man who wanted to seduce France had failed to ensure faithfulness of his own wife.
However, Sarkozy, a politician with a reputation of “ruthless bulldozer,” has shown that he could be a forgiver too. Cecily (the new First Lady of the French Republic) was seen standing alongside her husband on May 6 as the news came down.
There were minutes of utter desperation in the political career of Nicolas Sarkozy. As a politician, he experienced his darkest moments in 1999 following a resounding defeat of his right-wing bloc in the election for the European Parliament. Nobody save for Sarkozy himself believed in his political future. And almost everybody turned away from him. But he hates to lose, as Sarkozy puts it. It took him several years to engineer a comeback. Sarkozy established contacts with journalists, union leaders and employers. He would give lectures, he would write newspaper articles and scripts (including a script of a TV film on the French policies in Indochina); he would visit hospitals, prisons, police stations and firehouses…
Sarkozy felt completely ready to take charge when the Right realized they simply could not do without his irrepressible energy and readiness to tackle most complex problems.
He was ready to straighten out things in most sensitive sectors of the government, be the interior ministry or national economy. At the same time, he was drawing up his own reform program for France.
The main parts of Sarkozy’s reform program are already known. Sarkozy is planning to eliminate unemployment, cut taxes, boost security and environmental safety. He also intends to put France back into the process of European integration. Each of the parts of his program is an explosive issue. However, Sarkozy looks set to act at a fast clip. To maximize the efficiency, the next government is reported to comprise 15 full-blown ministries, half of which are expected to be headed by women.
As for the foreign policy, Sarkozy made clear that he is more interested in building a new “North-South” axis than in maintaining the “East-West” relations. He proposed to form a Mediterranean community and he made a pledge of new policy to Africa. Sarkozy said that French-U.S. relations would mostly depend on America’s fight against global warming. As regards the relation between France and Russia as well as the relations between France and China, the issue of human rights would play a certain role.
However, tackling France’s domestic problems seem to be a priority for the president-elect because hundreds of his opponents were torching cars and smashing store windows in Paris suburbs as thousands of his triumphant supporters were drinking champagne and dancing at Place Concorde.
In the meantime, Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s newly elected president, has vanished in the ozone. He will be out of reach until May 16. On a misty Monday morning, Sarkozy put on his favorite jeans and jumped into his car in company with his wife and kids. The car sped away to destination unknown. Most analysts believe he is having a short vacation in the southern part of Corsica. Sarkozy seems to have a penchant for the island, not only because 60% of the Corsicans cast votes for his candidacy. He has been a regular visitor to Corsica for quite a while.
We should not forget that a man of rather short stature arrived from Corsica to the continental France in his time. He was bound to become the most illustrious leader in the French history. The man was called Napoleon Bonaparte. However, Nicolas Sarkozy has yet to play his part. Speaking of his ambitions, they appear to be on a par with those of Napoleon.
Translated by Guarman Grachev