Seeking A Large Majority
Nicolas Sarkozy granted his first interview since the election to Le Figaro. It is very long and I am presenting some excerpts. You will note his emphasis on Europe, especially in his plans for Bastille Day:
On his first month in office:
I have tried to make good use of this month so that - if the French people give me a majority in the National Assembly - my government can get to work right after the election. I was elected on a strong program, a coherent program based on frankness and truth. My duty is to put this plan into action. (...)
On his giving the chairmanship of the finance committee to the Left:
Indeed. I understand perfectly that this commitment, which I made before the French people, might upset certain traditions and thwart certain ambitions, but that is of little importance compared to the stakes. My duty as president is to assemble a majority and the duty of the majority is to be open-minded. If the majority does not open up, it dooms itself. The president of the Republic cannot be the man of one party or of one clan. This commitment will be fulfilled following the legislative elections. But that is not all. (...)
I am happy to have in my government men of the quality of Bernard Kouchner, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Eric Besson and Martin Hirsch. They have shown courage. If the opportunity arises I will ask others from the Left or the Center to join us. I don't intend for this opening up to become a "coup". I want to profoundly reform our country in order to modernize it. The changes will be important, and I need a large majority. (...)
In response to the argument that he wants "all the power":
But those who say that are those who fought side by side with François Mitterand to get a majority for him, and we know where that led! "All the power" - that didn't bother them when it was for the Left! What does it mean when 20 regions out of 22 are Left, when more than half of the departments are Left, when so many counties are Left? I'm not concerned with whether the majority is too big or too small. I'm fighting for the support of the parliament that will permit me to implement the program ratified by the French people. I'm fighting to have a majority that will enable me to apply the mandate that has been conferred on me.
On reforming the electoral procedures of the legislative elections:
After the election I will meet with all political groups represented in the Assembly, the Senate and in the European Parliament...
Including the Front National?
By what right would I reject them if their candidates are elected? I will listen to each one. If a consensus emerges in favor of a proportional system that would benefit minority parties, we will discuss it. My mind is not closed.
On the reworking of ministerial posts:
Secretaries of State will be created. I want to make clear at the outset that they will be few in number. We will not double the size of the government, far from it! And I must add that they will have to meet criteria of diversity both in terms of their territorial origins, their political origins and they must be representative of multi-cultural France ("la France multiple"). Furthermore, parity is one objective I will not give up. (...)
Reminder: A secretary of State works in a ministry and is subordinate to a minister.
On plans for breaking with tradition on July 14:
On July 14, I will invite a military detachment from each of the 26 countries of the European Union to parade on the Champs-Elysées. It will be a beautiful symbol! The garden party will be devoted to victims and more generally to all those who have suffered through ordeals. Invited too will be all those who have shown acts of courage. In the evening we will organize on the Champ de Mars a big concert in honor of France and Europe. (...)
On reforming the courts:
Judicial reform is indispensable and unopposable. Local justice does not mean having a courthouse in every city. It means having a rapid and unopposable system of justice that responds to the needs of the interested parties. There are departments with three common pleas courts and others with several appeals courts. The court system has not changed since 1958. France has. We must begin discussions.
On his promise to define his wife's role:
She and I talk a great deal about this. She will have the opportunity to present her vision of her role shortly, when things have been definitively worked out.
Have you had any contact with Jacques Chirac since his departure?
At the European Council in June, you will not oppose the entry of Turkey in the EU. Have you changed your mind?
My priority in Europe is to obtain the simplified treaty (i.e. his own version of the European Constitution). But if I take on the issue of Turkey as well, there will be no simplified treaty. I have not changed my mind: Turkey has no place in Europe. But the meeting is in December, not June. I have begun talks with the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan to make him understand that my position is in no way directed against the Turks, but concerns the essential question of Europe's borders. (...)
On the European Constitution:
It cannot be a Constitution that the French do not want. There has to be substance: a stable president of the European Council, a European Minister of Foreign Affairs, an extension of powers for the majority and a reference to fundamental rights. No one is saying it's impossible any more.
On the G-8 Summit:
I'm hoping for a specific agreement on reducing greenhouse gazes. We cannot vacillate on that. I am a friend of the United States, a determined ally without hidden motives. But I say to them: you must make an effort. The world's first super power cannot be exempt from setting an example on preserving our planet's equilibrium. And the second thing is to mobilize more wealth in favor of Africa. Who cannot see a link between these two stakes? In Darfur, populations had to move because of the drought and this led to barbaric confrontations. I want to offer a different African policy which means speaking frankly to Africans. I believe in the right to universal access to treatment for AIDS by the year 2010. But I want to speak the language of truth to the Africans: their problems do not come only from outside of Africa. (...)
The photo, also from Le Figaro, shows him at his desk in Elysée Palace.
Labels: President Sarkozy 2007