Nicolas Sarkozy has star appeal. But to judge from his political testimony, he lacks a coherent political philosophy and has few ideas about how to arrest France's declineby Charles Grant / March 22, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
Testimony by Nicolas Sarkozy
(Harriman House Publishing, £16.99)
Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for a “rupture” with France’s past makes him an exciting figure. In the last five years—during stints as chairman of the Gaullist UMP party, finance minister and interior minister—he has proved himself a hyperactive and effective politician. If anyone is capable of shaking up France’s sclerotic economic and bureaucratic systems, it is probably the Gaullist candidate for the presidency. His star appeal is undeniable. At a chaotically organised election rally in London in January, so many French exiles came to hear him that several thousand people (myself included) were left on the street outside. His message to those who did get in was simple: France must change in order to attract back the young and enterprising.
Sarkozy’s book is a series of disconnected anecdotes, musings and proposals. He recounts how he pushed through difficult reforms as a minister, how he plans others as president, how he countered the slanders and schemes of his enemies, and how his relations with both Jacques Chirac and Cécilia—Sarkozy’s briefly estranged wife—are really much rosier than people imagine. Sarkozy presents no political philosophy, merely stating that his interpretation of Gaullism, in contrast to that of Chirac, is that France needs unceasing reform.