Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Vive le président Sarko !

At last, some good news from Europe. The new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has appointed Dr. Bernard Kouchner, (until the 19th a Socialist) -- Foreign Minister. (Hat tip: Austin Bay Blog). The Quay d'Orsay's new occupant was Minister for Health and Humanitarian Action in the last Socialist government; but -- more interestingly, and importantly -- Dr. Kouchner backed the US invasion of Iraq, unlike the former President, the unlamented Jacques Chirac.
The Times says that the Parti Socialiste responded to President Sarkozy's display of bipartisanship by expelling Dr. Kouchner from the party and denouncing him as a "traitor." PS leader François Hollande, (domestic partner of President Sarko's defeated rival Sego), declared that Dr. Kouchner, by accepting the appointment, is guilty of engaging in ". . .a personal adventure in becoming one more minister in a right-wing government."
As an aside, such statements and actions cast doubt on the continued efficacy of republican government: if bipartisanship does not exist (most especially in foreign policy); if working with duly elected opponents is "treason," then all politics is simply war by other means. If blowhards like M. Hollande are not careful, the resemblance will someday be even more pronounced.
At any rate the appointment is interesting, and undoubtedly indicates interest by the new President in better relations with the US and UK, although some conservatives expecting the arrival of a new Nirvana in US/French relations are definitely going to be disappointed. Hopefully, though, we see a real effort from the US side towards improving relations.
The manner in which President Sarkozy is going about forming his government also calls for some comment. The position of Prime Minister under the Fifth Republic is very weak, but the new Prime Minister, François Fillon, appears to have even less influence on these matters than is normally the case. By the way, M. Fillon is another intriguing appointment: an advisor to the President during the campaign, he has a reputation as an Anglophile -- as well he might, given his wife is from Wales. But M. Fillion is not assembling the government: instead, President Sarkozy looks to be running everything.
No mistake, though, this is some good news. The right people are upset. In the inimitable words of Colonel Bay: "Touche’. Too-effin-che’. Magnifique."

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