Monday, July 2, 2007
Sarkozy The Pragmatic
What do you call an economic program that at the same time: a) reduces taxes for the highest incomes and deregulates labor laws; b) postpones deficit-reduction in order to pump 10-15 million euros in federal subsidies back into the economy; and c) maintains the state's prerogative to defend national industry from foreign competition? Is it liberal? Keynesian? Or protectionist? (Or to put it another way, is it Thatcherism? Blairism? Or Chavezism?)
That's the question Le Monde poses today, and the answer, in case you don't know by now, is that it's Sarkozyism. Because what most American conservatives conveniently overlooked in their rush to celebrate France's "return to sanity" this spring is that Nicolas Sarkozy is first and foremost a politician.
Or pragmatic. Or opportunistic. Call it what you like. But if he has to choose between theoretical coherence and keeping his electorate happy, you can kiss the textbook good-by. As Dominique Plihon, a leftist professor put it:
Nicolas Sarkozy practices right-wing "Gramsci-ism": It's the ideas that are at the service of the conquest of power, and not power that is at the service of an idea. (Translated from the French.)
That doesn't mean that he won't follow up this year's modest reforms with a more ambitious second round next year. But he's willing to take what he can get, and wait for the rest, as long as it keeps the voters happy.