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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Good riddance, Sarkozy!

"La France forte" or "Strong France"
was Sarkozy's campaign slogan.
In one of the most memorable lines of his presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy threw at a French citizen who dared refuse to shake his hand, "Get lost, asshole!" ("Casse-toi, pauvre con!" in the original French- Watch the YouTube video) At this week's second round of the presidential election, the French people returned the compliment sending Sarko packing.

Two years ago, in a blog called "Sarkozy: La France c'est moi" I alerted my countrymen to the dangers of the presidency of the authoritarian and egomaniac bullshitter who tricked us into trusting him with the nation's top job. It took five years but finally the French people saw through him and gave him what Churchill once called, when he was on the receiving end of it, "the order of the boot." And rightly so.

This is of course, only Part 1 of the Sarkozy defenestration. Part 2 should be to prosecute him for the various abuses in power (some of which I mentioned in the same blog) and convict him. Hopefully this time we'll have a convicted French president who will serve his sentence, unlike Chirac (see my blog, "Real crime, fake justice") Then we could say that we have made a qualitative jump on the democratic scale by ensuring that justice is meted out to ALL citizens regardless of social status. We would thus show the way to other Western countries to send Blair, Bush & Co to jail for the crimes they have committed and for which they enjoy a scandalous full impunity.

I have seen press reports about how François Hollande "won" the election. That is simply untrue. Sarkozy lost it. Just look at the figures, less than 2% separated each candidate from victory, hardly the mark of a landslide. And yet, considering Sarkozy's disastrous record and abysmal approval ratings, Hollande should have won by a handsome 60% at least. But are we surprised at the poor showing by the Socialist candidate?

Not really. After all, he was not the first candidate for his party's nomination; that was Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was disqualified after that little incident at the Sofitel hotel in this city last year. Hollande was not even the second choice, that was party chief Martine Aubry who dithered so long about running that she finally lost to him. Many Socialist Party activists even toyed with the idea of letting Hollande's former partner, Ségolène Royal, have a second try at the presidency, but thank God they thought better of it at the last moment (I used to think that  the US with George W. Bush and Sarah Palin had a monopoly on idiots running for the presidency, but obviously in France we also have our share.) Unlike Barack Obama who fought tooth and nail to get the job (what he did with it is another issue and will be the subject of a blog come November), François Hollande was just lucky to be the least bad man at the right place at the right moment.

"Sarkozy, Outgoing President!"

So François Hollande won by default. Will he be up to the task? Will he finally solve the crippling debt crisis we have been suffering from for the past several years now? Well, considering that in his thirty years as a party apparatchik, lowly MP or local politician in a sleepy rural town he never displayed any conviction, vision or signed any remarkable policies, that would be quite a miracle. A couple of months ago, I caught him campaigning on a bright Sunday morning in a market close to my Paris home, at the Bastille. Since the debt crisis is the direct result of banking misbehavior, I put the question to him:

"Monsieur Hollande, are you going to nationalize the banks?"

"At any rate, we will reform them," he replied.

"Is that a promise?" I asked grabbing his arm. With Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris smiling that phoney smile of his just behind him, the then-candidate-now-president nodded his head reiterating that policy decision before leaning forward to kiss a kid and shake hands with well-wishers.

In case you don't believe me, here are the videos I made (they are of course in French, I appear at the end of the first video, and in the second you can hear my voice asking the question at 00:40 followed by Hollande's answer.)

So Hollande is on record promising bank reform and to get us out of the debt mess these banks brought us in. After the wasted twelve years with Chirac and five Sarkozy years, it would be great to finally have a president who can deliver.

Unfortunately, considering his record, my advice to you is not to hold your breath. We are used in France (and other Western pseudo-democracies) to being betrayed by our political class. As we say, Plus ça change...

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