Sunday 22 April 2012 - 10:21

Sarkozy’s anti-Muslim campaign will backfire at polls: Analyst‎

Story Code : 155535
Sarkozy’s anti-Muslim campaign will backfire at polls: Analyst‎
Interview with Brent Budowski, columnist of The Hill newspaper in Washington about the run up to the 2012 French presidential elections and the backlash we are witnessing against greed and the one-percent and also about the consequences of the tactics used by Nicolas Sarkozy resulting from his association with right wing conservative groups.

Some analysts say that Sarkozy would use whatever it took to get his way politically and they give the example of the French economist Dominic Strauss Khan who would have been Sarkozy's main competitor in the election prior to rape charges that were later dropped, but actually destroyed him politically.

Your take on this statement?

Budowski: I think it's generally true. I think the way Nicolas Sarkozy has played, let's call it, the Muslim card or the race card or the racist card following in the footsteps of (Jean) Marie Le Pen and the far-rightist Party, is outrageous.

I think as well, besides his demeanor and his political style, I think it's less the US that's the problem… it's that economically he is very close to the Germans in a conservative alliance of the French conservatives, the German conservatives and the British conservatives that are basically very much seen… and are… to be pro-banker, pro-super wealthy, pro-the one-percent at the top, pro-the rich while they are imposing pain and austerity, which I have been arguing against all along, against the middle class and the poor.

I think there is this conservative alliance that has made Europe even worse where the rich get richer, the bankers keep getting bailed out and keep getting wealth; and the average Frenchman, German, Brit and all Europeans i.e. the working men and women, they are getting crushed by these conservative policies and I think to a large degree that is working against Sarkozy and in favor of Hollande.

I also think that his demeanor on top of that, which is very aggressive and confrontational - when you add that to the kind of rightist pro-banker pro-wealthy policies, anti-populous, anti-middle class, anti-poor and anti-Muslim I think there is a formula around which he will probably be defeated. And I think all these conservative leaders are going to be in big trouble starting right now.

Post Sarkozy France took on a much more anti-Islamic color than before. Analysts say that Muslims are adamant in not voting for Sarkozy in the election, but what happens in general in the election, because there are many saying that has become apathetic in general and perhaps many of them won't even vote? How do you think that could affect the vote on Sunday?

Budowski: My guess is that where they might have been apathetic a month or two ago, the inexcusable racist behavior of Sarkozy following in the footsteps of Le Pen, running a hostile and bigoted anti-Muslim kind of a campaign, I think he should be ashamed of himself.

And I think the political effect of that will be a much higher turnout both because they're angry and because they want to be protected - which Francois Hollande will protect them and will treat them with dignity and will treat them with fairness and justice.

I think Mr. Sarkozy knows better than what he said. To get back to your point earlier... he is like Mitt Romney in one regard he will say anything and do anything to get elected and he follows in the footsteps politically, as you also said, to George W. Bush who after 9/11 played certain right wing fear cards against Democrats in the same way Sarkozy tried and is failing to play the anti-Muslim card.

It is not only the Muslims by the way reacting against what Sarkozy said, there are many centrists in France; there are many decent and honorable people in France who are not overly-political who find Sarkozy, to be quite blunt, obnoxious and they find his tactics to be very outrageous. And that is making, as (other guest) Mr. Walker said, a credible candidate, Francois Hollande, look even better and more statesmen-like and more elevated to people beyond the Muslims.

So I think this tactic backfired. It was wrong; it was outrageous and it's not working.

About voting apathy… In many cases we may be seeing the same sot of thing in the US that again it seems mostly based on more personal attacks than an actual agenda of how to solve the problem, which is the same in France.

What exactly is that saying about the political elite in general in all of these countries and being out of touch with their own people?

Budowski: I think the political elites in almost every major country are out of touch - that includes to some degree my friends on the left and that also includes those I disagree with on the right.

Let me be real brief and make the big point here about France and the US and everywhere else... I wrote a column recently and have been arguing for time; there are two big trends in the world: the female century, about the rise of women and equality and justice for women; and the populist century, the backlash against greed, against corruption, against fraud, against Wall Street abuse, against the wealthy taking advantage and against the austerity that punishes cruelly, working people.

And what you're seeing in France with Sarkozy - and you're going to see it in my opinion in Germany, in Britain and in the US against Mitt Romney is a condemnation of greed; the kind of attitude that the Wall Street Occupiers have represents the majority of people; the kind of attitude Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy and Mitt Romney have - the pro-banker, pro-wealthy is now in disrepute and there's a backlash against it and that I believe is the most important story of the French election and other elections that are coming.