go to top

Saving Candidate Sarkozy: A Year of Disappointment and Broken Promises

Thursday, May 8, 2008

PARIS -- One year to the day after his election as president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy strikes an increasingly lonely figure on the French political scene. Having referred to himself as the "buying power president" to emphasize his goal of increasing disposable income, he has instead become the object of a nationwide case of buyer's remorse. His popularity has plummeted in opinion polls, and in the absence of any true political opposition (outside of an increasingly hostile press), he faces growing disenchantment within his own UMP majority. In a country where politics is a blood sport, and where the only thing worse than success is failure, his precarious position has already led some to wonder whether his presidency is past saving.

A good deal of the blame lies with the high expectations that Sarkozy generated as a candidate. A year ago, he campaigned under a reform platform that he described as a "rupture" with the paralysis of previous administrations. In the face of France's historic distrust and hostility to market liberalism, Sarkozy made the value of work his campaign's central focus. "Work more to earn more" became both his campaign's slogan, and his promise to liberate the country's economy from its suffocatingly arcane regulations. But so far, even where Sarkozy has successfully implemented his program, the results have been far less dramatic than expected. His tax-break for workers who put in overtime, for instance, has had relatively minor impact on earnings, while adding yet more red tape for employers. The final terms for rolling back retirement benefits for the so-called "special regimes" (heavy laborers who currently qualify for a full pension after fewer years of active contribution) have yet to be announced, but they are expected to result in largely symbolic cost reductions. ...

Want to Read the Rest?
Login or Subscribe Today.
Quarterly
$ 25 for 3 months
  • Two-week FREE trial access.
  • Cancel during trial and pay nothing.
  • Just $25 quarterly after trial.
Try It FREE
Annual
$ 75 for 1 year
  • Two-week FREE trial access.
  • Cancel during trial and pay nothing.
  • Just $75 annually after trial.
Try It FREE