Europe is suffering its worst crisis since the second world war, says Jean-Claude Trichet, the outgoing head of the European Central Bank. Yet instead of De Gaulle and Churchill, today’s continent is led by an altogether blander bunch.
Angela Merkel, the most important politician in Europe, is a byword for dullness (“zero charisma, zero glamour,” as Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post once put it, and she meant it as a compliment).
Opinion polls suggest that next spring Nicolas Sarkozy—French president, husband of supermodel Carla Bruni, who told David Cameron to “shut up” at the weekend—will be bumped from office by a stodgy Socialist, François Hollande: a man who has been doing his best to project an image of earnest competence. As Jonathan Fenby writes in this month’s Prospect, the 2012 presidential election will reveal the true extent of the malaise in France’s politics.