The German chancellor held an unprecedented joint TV interview with the embattled French president, and said it was only “natural” to support a fellow conservative,
the Telegraph quotes Angela Merkel. But if that’s so natural, why did no previous German chancellor get involved in French elections?
Gerhard Schröder probably came closest to that kind of brazen interference in French internal affairs when he
pitched into the French domestic debate in 2005, telling French voters that
We will reproach ourselves later if we let slip this historic opportunity to advance Europe […] Our children, our children’s children, will reproach us. France and Germany have a very special responsibility for the success of this process.
That, however, was a European topic – a “constitutional treaty” for Europe, frequently referred to as a “constitution”. And if Schröder didn’t damage then French president Jacques Chirac‘s and their common cause, he didn’t really help it either: on May 29, 2005, a majority of voters rejected the treaty anyway.
If François Hollande, Mr. Sarkozy’s socialist challenger, will win the presidential elections is a big “if” anyway – especially if the Front National’s frontwoman, Marine Le Pen, shouldn’t manage to gather 500 signatures from elected officials. Most of those who would vote for her otherwise are more likely to vote for Sarkozy, if the only alternatives are further to the left.
But if Hollande should win, Merkel will have to work with a new French president – one whom she will have snubbed only months earlier.
Under these somewhat unfortunate circumstances, JR sees no other choice but to throw himself into French internal affairs, too. My advice would be that Mr. Hollande should be generous, and, if he happens to defeat Mr. Sarkozy, dedicate a few lines of his victory speech to the German chancellor, for loosening up what could otherwise be a somewhat cool beginning. He might say something like:
Thank you – thank you all. I would also like to thank Mrs. Merkel, who didn’t fail to contribute to this wonderful election result. I’m looking forward to our cooperation in the coming months and years, which, I’m sure, will be as fruitful and effective as it has been to date. Nothing is lost for Europe, if we continue to work side by side.
Everything else will develop naturally. Hollande may not be exactly as keen as Sarkozy to strangle Greece’s economy into oblivion (or out of the Eurozone), but Eastern Europeans will probably see to that.
To date, all French and German leaders have found ways to work together – after 1949, anyway. This isn’t going to change, even if the French people should dare to part the current dream team.