The French Paradox: Assessing Social and Political Landscape Changes in France

9 Pages Posted: 16 May 2007

See all articles by Hichem Karoui

Hichem Karoui

Center for China & Globalization (CCG)


Elected President by 53% of the French people, the 51-year-old politician, M. Nicolas Sarkozy, has pulled off a major triumph in uniting his camp behind him, but now faces the greater task of unifying the nation, as his mentor Charles de Gaulle succeeded to do by times of big challenges. This is perhaps what could explain the undergoing negotiations with some personalities so far considered as left-wing, like the socialist leaders: Claude Allegre (ex-minister of education); Hubert Vedrine (ex-minister of Foreign Affairs) and Bernard Kouchner, ex-health minister; the three of them on the list of potential ministers in the next government, according to some rumours.

The "new line" is perhaps not as preposterous as it seems to be, if we recall that the electoral strategy of M.Sarcozy consisted in addressing voters of all persuasions - beyond his own party -, heaping praise on left-wing founding fathers such as Jean Jaures, and trying to sell a vision of a society built on the values of work and respect, while promoting a new image announcing that there is a "Sarkozy-new look".

But is such an image powerful enough to be efficient? Many people doubt it, while other observers would hardly buy this new image, as the man is deemed to be linked to a right-wing harsh policy - as it is widely believed among the left-wing middle-class -, and to the powerful MEDEF ( Le Mouvement des Entreprises de France) against which the Unions demonstrate several times each year, and most of all, to the 2005's riots of the suburbs. It is no surprise then that one of the first things Sarcozy did, prior to his entry to the Elysée palace, was to meet the powerful French Union-leaders, on May 14. Similarly, it is almost no surprise that demonstrators started the Sarcozy era with some violent incidents.

Keywords: France, elections, social conflict, Democratic change, French Islam, immigration

JEL Classification: A13,A14,D70,D74,D78,D81,D84,H11,H50,I20,I30,J20

Suggested Citation

Karoui, Hichem, The French Paradox: Assessing Social and Political Landscape Changes in France. Available at SSRN: or

Hichem Karoui (Contact Author)

Center for China & Globalization (CCG) ( email )



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