Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Kennedy has come back"

The French seem to have suddenly fallen under the spell of the new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. This article in the International Herald Tribune talks about how after a contentious election, Sarkozy's approval ratings (at 65%) have already shot as high as any president this early in his election under the fifth republic.

How to describe the Sarkozy mania? The French magazine, Le Point, puts it this way:
Kennedy has come back. He's named Sarkozy. Never has a president shown such a relaxed nature, such an absence of complexes.
Such an absence of complexes was in display when Sarkozy met with one of his ministers, Alain Juppé, whom he addressed with an informal "tu" instead of the formal "vous." According to the Herald Tribune, Juppé, a former prime minister in the formal Chirac era, seemed so flummoxed by the informality that he replied in a convoluted formulation, avoiding both "vous" and "tu." forms.

He also has invited the media to accompany him and his new prime minister, François Fillon, on their regular jogs. A recent photo of Sarkozy in Nike training gear (a notion once unthinkable in French politics) hopping up the steps of L'Elysée set both tabloids and conventional media outlets aflutter.

But the evolution in exercise and grammar is only window-dressing compared to Sarkozy's radical changes at the ministerial level: He named seven women and a socialist to his fifteen-person cabinet, streamlining the organization to half the size of that found under Chirac's government.

Time will tell whether France has reason for its newfound optimism.

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