the Disillusioned kid: Francophilia
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


The French don't wait around do they? Within hours of the news that Nicolas Sarkozy (or "Sarko") had won the French presidential election on Sunday, protests against the result led to riots in Rennes, Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon, Paris, Dijon and Montpellier. On Sunday night alone, 730 cars were torched across France, with violence continuing on Monday and Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, on Monday unions promised to resist any attempt to force through "reforms."

The massive and ultimately successful campaign against the CPE (Contrat Première Embauche, Contract of First Employment) demonstrates that what we are witnessing in France isn't mere posturing. French social movements can stop so-called reforms dead in their tracks, causing massive disruption in the meantime. The flipside of this, of course, is that the majority of the French electorate were perfectly happy to vote for a right-wing authoritarian like Sarko (and in many cases were happy to do so twice). Perhaps they just wanted an excuse for a riot?

Sarko has demonstrated his connection with the common man by holidaying on a billionaire friend's luxury yacht following his victory on Sunday. The Socialists were able to stop fighting amongst themselves long enough to find a representative who described the trip as "ostentatious" and "scandalous." Even the conservative Le Figaro wasn't sure this was his best idea ever reporting that it had caused "concern among a number of friends of Nicolas Sarkozy."

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