29 May 2007
Sarkozy: some predictions

I’ve noticed that Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as President of France has been greeted in some quarters as little short of the second coming.  So, it might be just as well to put a dampener on that whole idea.  My guess is that Sarkozy will be good, but not that good. Here, based on my experiences of not-completely-awful politicians, are my predictions as to how his reign will pan out.

Having won the Assembly elections, almost the first thing he will do will be to provoke a confrontation with the unions and the left in general.  This he will win.  He knows that everything else he does will rest on overcoming this hurdle at the earliest possible opportunity.  Better to do it sooner rather than later - before his placemen forget who got them the job.

He will then make some mild reforms to France’s economy.  This will include a small reduction in taxes, and an easing of the 35-hour week, employment laws and state-employee pensions.  Unemployment will start to come down almost overnight and France’s economy will enjoy some impressive growth.

As for the banlieus he will make some efforts, but no more, to crack down on the current wave of violence.  It will subside but never entirely go away.

The reforms will then end, after which he will become an international statesman - which Britain’s (by then) weak political leadership isn’t going to like one little bit.  He is likely to foster a further deepening of the European Union along with a new, probably less verbose, constitution.  His relations with the US will have moments of frostiness but he will be, generally speaking, on side.  This will cause further difficulties for Britain, finding her stolid loyalty ignored while the US pursues France’s will-she, won’t-she promise.

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