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Sarkozy puts the final reactionary and anti-social polish on his candidature

Translated Saturday 11 February 2012, by Claire Scammell and reviewed by Derek Hanson

In an interview in Le Figaro entitled “Mes valuers pour la France” (My values for France), the French President - the likely candidate for the UMP party - has revealed that he will be targeting the unemployed, immigrants and homosexuals, among other social markers and scapegoats, in his future re-election campaign.

Still trailing behind his socialist rival François Hollande in the polls, on the subject of declaring his candidature Nicolas Sarkozy stated: “I said that my rendez-vous with the French people was coming, it is coming. If the question is have I thought about it? Then yes, both the form and the content”. If we’re to believe Le Figaro, Sarkozy’s future campaign, articulated around the “values” of “work”, “responsibility” and “authority” is looking like a catalogue of measures, each one more reactionary than the last.

Tackle the unemployed, not unemployment

Instead of tackling unemployment - which is at its highest level in 12 years in France (about 10%) despite a promise at the start of his five-year term to bring it down to 5% - Nicolas Sarkozy prefers to tackle the unemployed, seen as idle individuals feeding off the state. His idea is for a “new system where benefits are not paid out passively but are allocated by the employment office to each jobseeker in return for their attending training”.

How it works: “After a period of a few months, any unemployed individual without serious prospects of re-employment will have to choose a training course which will give them a formal qualification”, explains Sarkozy. “The courses will be selected by a national committee who will indentify, with business leaders and unionists, which sectors will be creating jobs in the future. Once they have completed the training, which will be obligatory, the individual must then accept the first job offer, appropriate to their training, that they receive”.

And if the unions and leaders cannot come to a consensus on this subject? “We would, without a doubt, have to consider the possibility of talking directly to the French people to get their opinion on this new system and how we should handle employment and support”, said the president, who has not organised a referendum since 2007.

Tackle the immigrants, not the immigration crisis

His economic and social policy having been extremely unpopular with the French people, Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to get ahead by showing where he differs from François Hollande on “societal” issues. And it is immigrants who take the hit.
The future presidential candidate is proposing:

1. The tightening up of conditions for obtaining a residency permit after marriage to a French citizen by introducing “lodging” and “resources” criteria like those which exist for family reunification cases. “This will allow us to fight against fraud more efficiently”, he emphasized.

2. The restriction of “benefits granted to asylum seekers. The benefits will be restricted in the following cases; the asylum seeker will not cooperate with the government, a claim is made more than three months after first entering the country or an offer of housing is refused.

3. The replacement of judicial tribunals by administrative tribunals for immigration cases.

These last two measures will give the government full power on immigration issues, by making them judge and jury, it will also establish expeditious justice.

The president also reaffirmed his opposition to the right for immigrants to vote in local elections, contradicting his defence of the same right in 2005. To justify this, Sarkozy makes a simple observation which seems to have come out of nowhere: “It is not really the time for it, with all the risks associated with the rise of communitarianism”.

No rights for homosexuals

The current president of France declared that he is “not in favour” of gay marriage nor adoption by same-sex couples. “In these troubled times when our society is in need of repair, I don’t think we should blur the image of the social institution that is marriage”.

“I know that there are in fact certain cases where men and women perform the parental role perfectly. But these cases don’t make me think that we should enter a new definition of family into the law”, he added.

So Christine Boutin’s [1] electorate can safely return to the fold of the UMP. The National Front’s electorate might end up there too.

[1Leader of France’s Christian Democratic party and candidate for the 2012 presidential elections

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