The election of President Sarkozy has often been presented as a rupture of the French Right with Gaullism, a new blend of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism. The newly elected president was barely able to hide his sympathy with this interpretation. However, since his presidential campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy has repeatedly claimed a Gaullist legacy, using its symbols and drawing on its rhetoric. Sarkozy's political career, moreover, was entirely built up within the Gaullist party, and he proclaimed his affiliation with Gaullisy ideas. Therefore, in order to study and understand Nicolas Sarkozy it is essential to revisit his complex relationship with Gaullism. Likewise, Sarkozyism also has to be included in any analysis of the many contemporary forms of the Gaullist phenomenon.
The 2007 Presidential election has been the occasion of a fierce debate between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolène Royal on the issue of national identity. The victory of Nicolas Sarkozy has led to the creation of a Ministry of National Identity and Immigration, linking in a controversial way the management of newcomers and their acceptance of allegedly historical national "values." This article examines the debate during the campaign. It provides an analysis of the reasons why the definition and defense of national identity was discussed in the course of the election, and outlines the viewpoints of the two candidates on this issue. Finally, it argues that the temptation to fix politically the content of national identity is an ancient one in France. What has been presented as part of Nicolas Sarkozy's "rupture" with the past in this domain is in fact the latest development of a form of "state nationalism" that has been prevailing in France in recent decades.
Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the 2007 French presidential elections represents a true rupture: rupture with years of political apathy, rupture with what was an escalating rise of political protest, rupture with a "law" that since 1981 seemed to require that every outgoing majority be beaten. Sarkozy's electoral victory was substantial. It was built on a notion that what the French were looking for was a strong sense of direction, and it gave rise to a dynamic of striking change right after the election (a political opening to the left, a shift in presidential style, disarray in the Socialist Party, and the marginalization of the National Front).
From Consolidation to Collapse?
The presidential and legislative elections of 2007 are widely seen to have marked the end of the Far Right as a major political force in France. How could this occur only five years after Le Pen's qualification for the presidential run-off, and with his party seemingly in the ascendant? This article discusses recent fluctuations in Far Right electoral performance in France. It focuses largely on the presidential elections of 2002 and 2007, re-examining the (supposed) upswell of Far Right support in 2002 and its (supposed) subsidence in 2007. Both elections require nuanced interpretation. Both confounded poll predictions, which in 2007 failed to measure the effect of Sarkozy's hard-right campaign and, crucially, the extent to which the border between “mainstream Right” and “Far Right” had shifted since 2002. This allowed Sarkozy to drain part of Le Pen's electorate, and raises questions over the wider impact of Le Pen and the FN on the political agenda in France.
Changements idéologiques et étiquetages politiques
This article draws on two research strategies to analyze the radicalizing effects of "Sarkozyism" in France. The first uses the computer program ALCESTE to compare systematically the presidential campaign discourses of Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy as a way to evaluate how Sarkozy has altered the ideology of the French right. This analysis shows that a radicalization of the French right has in fact taken place with regard to questions of immigration, national identity, and sécurité. The second strategy makes use of the sociology of labeling to analyze expressions of "anti-Sarkozyism" on the internet. A cartographic study of the web sheds light on the variety and dynamism of this anti-Sarkozyism, and in so doing helps us take the full measure of Sarkozyism's strong polarizing effects.
In 2013 France and Germany will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, signed by the two countries to create a close collaboration in the interest of peace and prosperity. Over the course of five decades, different couples of French Presidents and German Chancellors have dealt with the Paris-Berlin relationship in slightly different ways, some with more success than others. Despite the many changes in the European context and to the balance in the alliance between France and Germany, the initial motivation and meaning of the treaty remains astonishingly valid today, especially in light of its positive contribution to European integration. Even with many possible factors weakening the two countries' core relations, the Franco-German duo retains its historically dominant influence in successful European governance, as the recent Merkozy situation showed.
Jonathan Laurence, Alain Billon, Michèle Tribalat, Alain Boyer, and Aslam Timol
Jonathan Laurence: Jean-Pierre Chevènement a fait savoir que l’État n’imposerait pas ses propres choix dans sa consultation avec l’islam. Vous avez dit, Monsieur Billon, que l’action de Sarkozy avec le CFCM avait pourtant quelque chose de « brutal » et de « cynique ». Quelle distinction faites vous par rapport à votre travail ? Y a-t-il aujourd’hui des contraventions à la laïcité qui n’existaient pas du temps de Chevènement ?
Martinique and the French Presidential Election of 2007
In May 2007, Martinique did not follow the rest of France in endorsing Nicolas Sarkozy in his bid to become president. Along with the other overseas French states Guadeloupe and Réunion (but not Guyane), Martinique supported rather the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal. Martinique thereby distanced itself from the rest of the République—as it had done in 1995—by backing a left-wing presidential candidate rather than the ultimately victorious right-wing one. 2007 represents the converse of 1981, when Martinique voted for the rightist candidate but France as a whole elected a leftist (François Mitterrand). Over time, being at electoral odds with the nation as a whole has become less troubling for Martinicans: independence, which most islanders oppose, is no longer seen at stake in presidential outcomes. On the other hand, Martinicans have become progressively resigned to their peripheral status within French presidential politics.
The 2012 French presidential election witnessed an increase in discussion about the European Union and its policies. To an equal degree the two top contenders, Nicolas Sarkozy and Fran?ois Hollande, criticized European policies and made promises to rectify EU mistakes, if elected. European institutions and decisions became scapegoats for domestic failures and tough economic choices, reflecting a long-term surge in Euroscepticism among French voters, especially in comparison to EU averages. Both candidates sought advantage by engaging in “EU-Negative“ campaigns to be able to mobilize as many potential voters as possible. Surprisingly, a half-year of EU criticisms has not led, at least in the short term, to a further increase in anti-EU positions in the public opinion.
The radical component is still alive in French socialism. It finds expression notably in the anti-liberal economic perspective that the international financial crisis has recently reawakened. It is also expressed in the critique of the institutions of the Fifth Republic that Nicolas Sarkozy's "hyper-presidency" has revived. The tendency toward radicalization, however, is also heavily constrained these days for several reasons. The Socialist Party, first of all, has become a party of government. The centrality of the presidential election in the French system and the presidentialist character that the Socialist Party has taken on make a presidential victory a top priority for the party. Too radical a discourse can become, for such a party, counter-productive. The economic environment, moreover, and the situation the country faces makes less and less credible as a political objective the large-scale, state-led redistribution that has traditionally been how French socialism has translated its radicalism into a program of government.