American conservative Newt Gringrich find valuable lessons in Zarkozy win in France to Republicans.
Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.
Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman
Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.
In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.
Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.