Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The Honeymoon's Over
There's been a subtle change in the political climate here the past week. Or maybe I should say that given the kind of bad news that's been bubbling up through the usually on-message Sarko-sphere, I sense a shift coming. Because even if Nicolas Sarkozy is still surrounded by plenty of sycophantic courtiers (in both politics and the media), his act is beginning to wear a bit thin on the folks outside the palace.
To begin with, other European leaders, who are having trouble keeping up with Sarkozy's scatter-shot initiatives that lack any overarching logic or strategy. Add to that his own Prime Minister, who in an interview with Paris Match cited by Le Figaro admitted that he'd been annoyed by some of the President's condescending comments over the past couple months. Toss in the labor unions that are a bit steamed over his two-week deadline for negotiating a reform to the "special retirement regimes" for hard labor, and have called a railroad strike next month. And if all that weren't enough, there's the police who have opened an investigation into a possible kickback scheme dating back to 1997 while he was still Mayor of Neuilly.
Besides that there are rumors of a government shakeup planned for January, along with knowing asides about dissatisfied cabinet members. All of this, it's important to remember, when there isn't the slightest shred of a legitimate opposition left to contest him.
That's a lot of rumbling. The question is, What's going to blow? As Dominique de Villepin pointed out, Sarkozy's dynamic activity is only convincing if it produces concrete results. So far, everyone has played along with him. But that might be changing, which means the next three months could get bumpy. And the Sarko that so many people warned us about during the presidential campaign might rear his ugly head.