Thursday, September 6, 2007
In The Court Of The Sarko King
After months of kid glove treatment, the new theme creeping into French political coverage is the disturbing parallels between the Sarkozy presidency and a royal court. Throughout the summer, the serious opinion-setting dailies and weeklies featured wide-eyed, "celebrity tabloid"-style coverage of Sarkozy's active governing style. This was followed by the publication of an authorized and largely flattering campaign-diary by a noted French playwright who followed him throughout the presidential campaign.
This week, Marianne, an iconoclastic centrist weekly, blasted the press and the political world for its courtisan-like behavior. Now, in a radio interview related by Nouvel Obs, former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has picked up where they left off. Comparing the new President with Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the nouveau riche bourgeois who dreams of becoming a nobleman, Villepin also defined his own role:
I am part of the majority in a country where there is no longer an opposition, and in this majority I believe we have to be self-critical... I'll cite my source: it's Nicolas Sarkozy. I was in a government where Nicolas Sakozy never ceased to say that we had to animate the debate... He was right, and I'm the one who will play the role of gadfly to a majority that must not rest on its laurels.
Villepin's attack is something of a double-or-nothing gambit. He is currently under investigation for his role in a scandal known as Clearstream, where an anonymous source provided a judge with a phony list of offshore accounts that included Nicolas Sarkozy's name. Sarkozy remains convinced that the list was an attempt by Villepin to upend his presidential ambitions, and the conventional wisdom is that he is using the current investigation to finish Villepin off.
Villepin, sensing the political void left by the implosion of the Socialist Party, must believe that his best defense is an aggressive attack. Either that or he has decided that if he goes down, Sarkozy will go down with him.
Via French Politics.