French President Nicolas Sarkozy is still not an official candidate for reelection. As president rather than candidate, he can command some perks..
He did that Sunday night when he commandeered the networks to announce a set of economic measures. Ideally, Sarkozy would like to announce his candidacy after the polls show him climbing rather than fading. However, he promised a rendezvous with the French voter quite soon, giving them a glimpse of how he intends to persuade them to give him another shot.
The French president is reprising his 2007 campaign. a time when he was running not only against his Socialist opponent Segolene Royal, but also against his predecessor and fellow party member Jacques Chirac.
Sarkozy portrayed himself as a person who would liberalize the French economy and restore it to competitiveness. After the year 2007 came 2008 and the economic crisis and the French president switched gears to become Sarkozy the protector. Now he claims the French public is more receptive to his proposals. having seen the downside of failing to embrace them.
Sarkozy's campaign will contrast him with the Socialist party candidate Francois Hollande. who has promised to roll back the retirement age to 60 and showcase Sarkozy as the responsible and courageous politician who does not pander to the voters.
As opposed to 2007. the model is not Tony Blair in Great Britain. but Germany and Angela Merkel. Sarkozy is proposing for France economic measures that worked in Germany. notably a social VAT that will be hiked and used to reduce labor costs in French industry, making France more competitive and better able to combat unemployment.
The government will also derive an income from a bank turnover tax that is intended to combat speculation and steal Sarkozy's opponent's thunder as the tamer of financial institutions.
Nicolas Sarkozy will be joined on the campaign trail by Chancellor Merkel. The relations between the two have not always been respectful in the past. Merkel has called Sarkozy Herr blah blah, while Sarkozy has referred to Merkel's taking a second helping of cheese when she was presumably on a diet.
Merkel has a few reasons for trying to help the underdog French president. First the two bonded together in an attempt to salvage the euro. Second, Francois Hollande has pledged to renegotiate the package put together by Merkel and Sarkozy. In Berlin, they also fear that a Socialist victory would weaken Europe.
Finally, European politics is sensitive to trends. A Socialist victory in France could signal a comeback of the European left and have repercussions for German politics as well. If Merkel helps Sarkozy turn the tide, she will also be helping herself.