Accolades and angst: European press on Sarkozy

15th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 15, 2007 (AFP) - European newspapers brandished their political leanings Monday in cheering or chiding the weekend anoinment of Nicolas Sarkozy as the top rightwing candidate in France's April presidential vote.

PARIS, Jan 15, 2007 (AFP) - European newspapers brandished their political leanings Monday in cheering or chiding the weekend anoinment of Nicolas Sarkozy as the top rightwing candidate in France's April presidential vote.

Many commentators could not resist comparing the ambitious and diminutive interior minister to Napoleon Bonaparte, some admiring his pluck and political acumen, others fearful of what they call his dangerously populist agenda.
  
"Sarkozy has mastered the art of orchestrating the people's anger, whether over rising petrol prices, crime or Turkey's joining the European Union," opined Germany's left-leaning Berliner Zeitung in an editorial entitled "Sarkozy: an overestimated candidate."
  
Another center-left paper, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, forecast an election dominated by fear-mongering.
  
"Sarkozy ... who wants to poach votes from (far-right candidate) Jean-Marie Le Pen, will toy with the fears of the French," it editorialized, while socialist candidate "Segolene Royal will play with their fears of Sarkozy."
  
In Britain, the conservative Financial Times saluted the "single-mindedness and determination" of the 51-year-old politician "in piercing the country's traditional political elite," noting his immigrant origins and outsider status.
   
The paper also praised Sarkozy for promoting labor market flexibility and lower taxes, policies widely favored by corporate interests, but noted that his "track record as finance minister was notably dirigiste."
  
"Will the real Sarkozy please stand up?", the paper asked, raising doubts about what the presidential aspirant's policy priorities would be.
   
"Sarko," as he is widely known in France, launched his campaign at a triumphant Union for a Popular Movement party congress in Paris on Sunday. He is the only politician who polls say can beat Royal, the Socialist contender who hopes to take over from Jacques Chirac to become France's first female president.
  
But his progress has been hampered by bitter intra-party feuding -- especially with Chirac -- amid fears that his trenchant views on immigration,law-and-order, and the economy make him unacceptable outside the ideological right.
  
Spain's three major dailies all gave front-page coverage to Sarkozy's nomination. "First Step to the Elysee" presidential palace, said the conservative ABC hopefully, while El Mundo, also on the right, ran an editorial under the title "Sarkozy: clear and
brilliant."
  
The paper was especially admiring of the interior minister's American-style zero-tolerance position on terrorism.
   
Even the left-wing El Pais had kind words for the candidate, noting that Sarkozy had moved to the center, "forgetting some of the more neo-liberal aspects of his platform and backing the protective social policies of the Gaullist tradition."
   
Within France, national and regional media almost unanimously agreed that Sarkozy had pulled off a major coup. Liberation, a left-wing paper normally unsparing in its opposition, paid a rare compliment, describing him in an editorial as the right's "master and commander" and warning Royal that she has a rude task ahead.
  
Sarkozy's face was emblazoned over the front page of all Monday's newspapers, with reports and analysis of Sunday's "consecration."  

Le Courrier Picard, said Sunday's exhibition marked "the end of the Chirac era," a view widely echoed elsewhere in Europe too.
  
"Sarkozy is now the incontestable boss of the moderate right" in France, opined Austria's conservative daily, Die Presse. Chirac, the paper noted, "has only ONE remaining political goal: that his lost son does not succeed him."
  
The Danish right-wing Jyllands-Posten agreed that the dogged politician, who began his career as the mayor of a chic Paris suburb, has "rallied most of the major internal opposition, and has silenced the rest."
   
Along with several other Scandinavian dailies -- some left-leaning, others on the right -- the paper compared his nomination to the "coronation of an emperor."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article