Monday, April 16, 2007


France - Elections - Immigrants - Housing Projects - Poverty - New York Times

The Parisian suburbs, populated by immigrants and minorities, are separate enclaves neglected by the Parisians who live in the exclusive arrondissements.

For many observers, both inside and outside the country, the future of France is at stake in this election. Sarkozy’s supporters, who include a number of prominent intellectuals (unlike in almost every other rich country, their role continues to be significant in France), say he represents a clean break with the politics of the past half-century in France. For the novelist Marc Weitzmann, an enthusiastic “Sarkozyiste,” French postwar politics was dominated first by an unholy alliance between Charles de Gaulle and the French Communist Party and then by the Socialist François Mitterrand and the Gaullist Jacques Chirac, who in a sense perpetuated this sclerotic political arrangement. For Weitzmann, Sarkozy provides an alternative to a system that has failed to produce social peace, failed to adapt to France’s reduced role in the world and above all failed to reform its economy on either the Tony Blair model or the German Social Democratic model.

A decade ago, it would have been inconceivable to have found a Parisian intellectual like the writer Pascal Bruckner supporting a right-wing candidate like Sarkozy. But as Bruckner put it to me recently, Sarkozy “wants to give a kick in the rear to our old, decrepit country, to put an end to the French feeling of self-hatred, to reinforce our self-esteem and the value of work. He wants to extricate us from our decadence and put an end to the so-called ‘French exception,’ which is nothing more than the narcissism of failure.”

Will third-party candidate Francois Bayrou prove to be the upstart? We shall see, the election is very soon.



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