World welcomes Sarkozy win to revive France

7th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 7, 2007 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy's win in France's presidential election was broadly welcomed in the Western press on Monday though some media in Africa and the Middle East expressed hostility to the new leader.

PARIS, May 7, 2007 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy's win in France's presidential election was broadly welcomed in the Western press on Monday though some media in Africa and the Middle East expressed hostility to the new leader.

Most papers dubbed him a man of action, with the right qualities to deal with France's long list of troubles, not least its stuttering economy and high unemployment.

 However, there was also suspicon of his pledge to control immigration that will affect many in Africa who beat a path to France for work and opportunity.

Old enmities in France's former colonial possessions also surfaced with some editorials in Algeria highlighting his Jewish background and apparent lack of willingness to recognise France's colonial "crimes".

In Germany, France's main partner in the European Union, papers highlighted the chance for Sarkozy to make up for the "lost" years under outgoing President Jacques Chirac whose 12 years in power were marked by stagnation.

"Not only France but also the Europeans expect that Sarkozy will make up for lost ground," wrote the centre-left German daily Berliner Zeitung.

The economic daily Handelsblatt said that "after 12 years of Jacques Chirac, the weakest president of the Fifth Republic, a new strongman has arrived at the Elysee."

British papers also noted the passing of a generation with the Times of London, a right-of-centre paper, describing Sarkozy's victory as "the most important political change in France for a generation".

The right-wing Daily Telegraph in Britain declared that the 52-year-old former interior minister "represents his country's last, best chance to join the 21st century."

Similar thoughts were expressed in fellow EU members Italy, Spain and Greece where an editorial in the Ethnos newspaper said: "Sarkozy triumphed because he answered with clarity the questions of a society that is terrorized by the future's uncertainties."

It continued that his opponent, the defeated socialist candidate Segolene Royal "was crushed because she clumsily defended the conquests of the past, without managing to persuade that they could be viable tomorrow."

In Hungary, there was much talk of Sarkozy being the son of a minor Hungarian artistocrat who fled his homeland in 1944 to take refuge in France.

"Why did the French vote for the son of a Hungarian refugee with an unpronouncable last name?," asked the daily Nepszabadsag. Because when someone has a serious ailment he turns to a doctor. And he is the best doctor right now for France".

In the nearby Czech Republic, the Hospodarske Noviny said Sarkozy would do for France what Margaret Thatcher did for Britain and Jose Maria Aznar achieved for Spain by taking both countries in a radical conservative direction.

Turkey's press meanwhile was negative about the conservative's victory and its effect on Ankara's hopes for eventual European Union membership.

Sarkozy has repeatedly said that he doesn't think Turkey should be a member of the EU.

"Alas! It is Sarko," the popular Aksam daily said on its front page while the Milliyet newspaper said: "Sarkozy the new obstacle on the path towards EU."

Sarkozy's election "will increase the potential of already chilly Turkish-French ties to worsen," Milliyet said.

Meanwhile, in Africa, there were more critical voices. In Senegal, a former French colony, Le Soleil, wrote that Sarkozy's "paternalistic and ethnocentrique, sometimes racist" vision "wories a good number of Africans."

L'Observateur daily described there being "fear and worry among African immigrants" adding that "in place of an immigration of choice that he trumpeted everywhere Sarkozy nevertheless speaks of a restricted immigration."

In Sierra Leone, another African country where France has important relations, commentators expressed the hope that Sarkozy's election would mark the end of the Chirac era characterised by France "being the friend of corrupt (African) governments".

In one of France's most important former colonies and near neighbour, Algeria, French language papers carried largely factual reports of his victory.

However, the Arab language press was notably more critical. "The little Bush, president of France", declared Ech-chourouk on its front page, adding: "Good bye Gaullism, France's Jews have put Sarkozy in power".

Sarkozy was brought up by his Jewish grandmother after his parents divorced. However, that link was played up by the Israeli press.

The Jewish origins of the next Catholic French president have provoked large hopes in Jerusalem," said a front-page headline in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot, predicting a "new era in relations with France".

In the United States, Washington Post columnist, Jim Hoagland, cautioned that Sarkozy's success wouldn't automatically lead to an end to Chirac's combative relations with Washington.

"Do not expect Sarkozy to be as immediately active in dismantling Chirac's foreign policy, which sought to establish Europe as a counterweight to American influence abroad," Hoagland writes.

"Sarkozy is impressed far more by what the United States does at home than by its global aims and presence. He would like France to emulate America's domestic dynamism, not the Bush administration's ambitious reach abroad."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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