A Man with Vision? France's President Wields Enormous Power. Nicolas Sarkozy and His Rival Could Use It to Force Change. Why They Won't
Byline: Denis MacShane (MacShane, a Labour M.P., was Britain's Europe minister until 2005. He has written a biography of Francois Mitterrand.)
The pictures on the BBC news last week were grim. Third World despair as queues of hungry, homeless men and women huddled under thin tents or gratefully accepted soup and bread from charities. But this wasn't Africa or some other forlorn pocket of global poverty. This was Paris, 2007. Lining the banks of the Seine, steps from the most expensive shopping streets in the world, was a modern-day version of Hooverville, the tented city set up in Washington in 1932 to highlight the plight of the poor and the homeless in the years before Roosevelt's New Deal transformed the United States.
Wealth and poverty have always coexisted, uneasily, in France. Its affluent, self-satisfied elites, whether left or right, have never shown much concern for the plight of those on the streets. In the past, when this gap between haves and have-nots grew too wide, a revolt would come along to jolt the nation into reality. Think of the cultural-social earthquake of 1968, or the Paris Commune uprising after France's humiliation by Bismarck's Prussians in 1870, or the grandpere of them all, the 1789 Revolution. Today, of course, elections are supposed to bring change without the intercession of the street. But these days, it's fair to ask: is politics delivering?
Last week France's conservative …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: A Man with Vision? France's President Wields Enormous Power. Nicolas Sarkozy and His Rival Could Use It to Force Change. Why They Won't. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Newsweek International. Publication date: January 29, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. For permission: www.newsweek.com. COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group.
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