Sarkozy, Carpe Diem!

Nicolas Sarkozy now has the parliamentary majority he needs to implement his ambitious reform program. But that program remains vague when it comes to addressing what is perhaps the most critically important structural barrier paralyzing initiative and impeding employment growth: the stifling web of regulations that have become entrenched in France's labor code over the past generation.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential election triumph in May, and now the victory of his party, the UMP, in the parliamentary election, has created the most favorable opportunity in decades for deep structural reform in France. Not only did Sarkozy win the presidency with 53% of the vote, but his approval rating has since soared, to 62%, after he formed an inclusive government with high-ranking recruits from the opposition.

In the first round of the parliamentary election, the UMP won a record-high 40% of the vote. While voters denied the UMP a landslide victory in the second round, its overall win meant that the governing party retained its legislative majority for the first time in 29 years.

In the days following his election, Sarkozy brought France “back to Europe,” reinvigorating the Franco-German partnership and giving decisive support to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s campaign to revive the European Union’s draft constitutional treaty. He demonstrated pragmatism by not vetoing ongoing EU accession negotiations with Turkey, thus avoiding unnecessary confrontation with Great Britain and Spain, despite maintaining his long-term opposition to full membership for Turkey. Likewise, his government’s discreet silence in the wake of the European Central Bank’s latest interest rate increase constitutes eloquent recognition of the ECB’s independence.

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