Nicolas Sarkozy won the French presidential election in May in part because he attracted a substantial portion of the far right’s supporters to his conservative banner. Indeed, the Front National’s popular support has fallen from around 15% to 10%, weakening the FN tremendously and strengthening the traditional French right.
Sarkozy succeeded by embracing themes of national identity and immigration. As a result, many regarded his campaign as very right-leaning. In France and across Europe, people expected an extremely conservative government, akin to US President George W. Bush’s administration.
This was a mistake. Sarkozy’s embrace of the theme that France’s national identity has come under threat, which he linked to immigration, is not enough to make him an American style neo-conservative. He has chosen to demonstrate this most clearly in the field of foreign policy.