Sarkozy v Villepin and a question of political authority

france.gif One of the important and interesting aspects about the recent flurry about the new labour contract in France is the political aftermath. With Villepin vesting almost his entire political reputation in the CPE he is clearly tarnished after Chirac took the precedings.

(From the Economist) 

"President Jacques Chirac intervened in the country's bitter eight-week-long clash over a new job contract for young people under 26. His bizarre solution? To permit the controversial bill creating the new contract to go into law, but to urge his fellow citizens to pay no attention to it until it was amended."

What is especially interesting in my opinion is the actions of Sarkozy. There is no doubt that the battle between Sarkozy and Villepin in becoming UMP's candidate for the president elections will be fierce. Might Sarkozy have gotten a head start here?

"The biggest uncertainty, however, concerns Mr Sarkozy, Mr de Villepin's main rival as presidential hopeful for the centre-right. As head of the UMP, he seemed to interpret this week's shift of power to the parliamentary party as carte blanche to take charge. No sooner had Mr Chirac spoken than Mr Sarkozy reminded the public that “for several weeks, I've been calling for a compromise."

It is difficult to say. Villpin does seem to represent seriously damaged goods and his confidence polls have been tumbling lately. Sarkozy on the other hand has not positioned himself against Villepin on this matter but implicitly he has obviously tried to succede where Villepin has failed so miserably. What perhaps really is shown by this is the lack of confidence and trust in political authority. 

"Political authority in France is now in a state of flux. A resolute Mr de Villepin continued to insist this week that he “will not give up”. But his position has been seriously undermined. He is no longer in charge of the law he originally drew up."

In the end things are out of Villepin's hands which also show that what should have been an integral part of his swan song has now become a humiliation. However, as also implied in the Economist's coverage the unrest trancends way beyond Villepin but as things are now he is the proxy.