May 16, 2007

BBC NEWS | Europe | What now for Nicolas Sarkozy?

BBC NEWS | Europe | What now for Nicolas Sarkozy?:
Sarkozy has his work cut out for him! He seems a realistic conservative who will attempt to shift France from its Socialist underpinnings and pull it out of the doldrums that Chirac seemed to encourage. People will be encouraged to provide for themeselves rather than rely on the government for handouts.

He strikes me as a realistic conservative who will encourage people to use their initiative to improve themeslves and their country. Most of his goals make sense ( except government funding to build mosques!). If he succeeds, my dismay at France and its national ego based on their romantic notion of the past may be lifted.

I'm encouraged by what he says.

"He wants to drive growth by rewarding effort and spurring competition - the kind of market reform undertaken in most EU countries in the 1990s, but which have repeatedly failed in France.

Exempt overtime (above 35 hours) from taxes and social security charges
Minimum sentences for repeat offenders, tougher sentences for juveniles
Selective immigration that favours arrival of qualified workers
Increase taxes on polluters
Oppose Turkish EU membership

His economic programme includes incentives to encourage overtime - summed up by his slogan 'work more to earn more' - as well as deep tax cuts.

The president-elect wants to reform the benefits system by forcing the unemployed to accept work, and by scrapping the pensions privileges enjoyed in the public sector.

He has also pledged to take on restive state workers by instituting a 'minimum service' for transport during strikes, and by not replacing half the workers retiring from public service.

Mr Sarkozy is tough on crime and illegal immigration, and has promised to create a controversial new 'ministry for immigration and national identity'.

His clear victory has given the lie to those - both on the traditional right and left - who had argued that the French are not ready for root-and-branch reform.

Nevertheless, the contentious nature of his programme suggests bitter battles ahead. "
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