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New Left Review 47, September-October 2007

Emilie Bickerton on Serge Halimi, Les Nouveaux chiens de garde. Polemical attack on the French media as choristers of the new liberal order. Does Sarkozy’s victory mean the electorate is finally in tune?



Nicolas Sarkozy’s entry to the Elysée in May 2007 was hailed not just by the right-wing press—‘What a victory!’ exclaimed Le Figaro—but even more sonorously by the liberal centre-left. At Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani confidently affirmed that the result showed ‘the country wants to be more dynamic, more offensive, more efficient’—in a word, summed up by the paper’s headline, ‘To Change’. Even the nominally left-wing ‘Anyone But Sarko’ Libération served its mourning readers a dose of stoic realism: ‘he owes his victory to his provocative honesty . . . in keeping with the wishes of the public . . . get ready’. Over the past ten years, the French media had been more inclined to chastise the populace than applaud its political choices—in its rebellious votes for the candidates of the far left and right in the 2002 presidential elections, for example. The 2007 vote seemed to represent a realignment of the electorate with the unanimous opinion—la pensée unique—of the media: that France should comply with the orderly alternation between centre-left and centre-right parties that liberal democracy required. Hence the sigh of relief from Le Monde when mainstream candidates triumphed in 2007’s first round. Colombani again:

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Emilie Bickerton, ‘Sarkozy’s Fifth Column’, NLR 47: £3

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