The Economist backs Sarkozy as 'France's Chance'

12th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, April 12, 2007 (AFP) - Influential weekly The Economist came out in favour of rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency Thursday, while saying its choice was "faute de mieux" -- for want of anyone better.

LONDON, April 12, 2007 (AFP) - Influential weekly The Economist came out in favour of rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency Thursday, while saying its choice was "faute de mieux" -- for want of anyone better.

In a leading article 10 days before the April 22 first round of voting, it said Sarkozy represented "France's Chance" for reform -- and likened him to a Napoleon arriving on horseback on its front cover.

Socialist Segolene Royal's attractions include that she is the first serious female contender, and her "willingness to break with Socialist taboos" by, for example, praising Britain's Tony Blair and criticizing France's 35-hour week.

"Unfortunately her policies are woolly even by modern standards. And in economics, she stands squarely behind all the old left-wing shibboleths: state intervention, rigid labour protection and high taxes," it said.

Centrist Francois Bayrou was "more promising," the Economist said, noting his pledge to curb public debt. "But he has failed to promote a free-market agenda -- he is distressingly fond of farm subsidies and state intervention.

"Which leaves Mr Sarkozy as the best of the bunch. Unlike the others, and despite his long service as a minister under Mr Chirac, he makes no bones of admitting that France needs radical change," it said.

But there are two doubts about Sarkozy. "As he showed in his brief stint as finance minister, he has most of the traditional French politician's meddlesome economic instincts," such as protecting national champions.

It also noted "a second unattractive streak: a form of nativism, reflected in his harsh comments about immigrants and national identity.

"On the evidence of his career and his campaign, Mr Sarkozy is less a principled liberal than a brutal pragmatist," it said.

"Yet he is the only candidate brave enough to advocate the rupture with its past that France needs after so many gloomy years.

"It has been said that France advances by revolution from time to time but seldom, if ever, manages to reform. Mr Sarkozy offers at least a chance of proving this aphorism wrong."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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