Leading author claims Sarkozy is 'Napoleon in a suit'
2009 01 13

By Hugh Schofield | sundayherald.com

They are two small men in a hurry, who at the start of a new century both believe it is their destiny to drag France out of chaos and decline.

Both are outsiders who despise the Paris elite. (Ed Comment: "Outsider" can be debated, see Thierry Meyssan's article: Operation Sarkozy for his elite background.)They are control freaks who must interfere in every corner of government. They are obsessed by image and see the media as a vital tool of power. One way or another, they both dream of taking the reins of Europe.

Each likes ostentation and has a frank respect for money. They also adore women - though their dependence on beautiful consorts exposes a disarming psychological frailty.

The two men are hated and admired in equal measure. Some believe them to be providential heroes and overlook their flaws as the inevitable side-effects of reforming genius.

But others see them as anti- democrats whose legacy is the undoing of freedom. For their many enemies, whatever positive change the two leaders bring is vastly outweighed by a worrying personalisation of political power.

Comparisons have been made before between Napoleon Bonaparte and Nicolas Sarkozy, his 26th successor as French head of state. Now, thanks to one of the country's leading political commentators, the comparisons have taken a step closer to becoming an accepted truth.

In his book, La Marche Consulaire (The Consular March), out this week, Alain Duhamel sets out the case for regarding Sarkozy as a 21st-century incarnation of the most influential Frenchman of modern times - or, as he puts it: "Bonaparte in a suit."

"Both men intend to leave behind them a France which is no longer what it was. They see themselves as the rescuers of a great but weakened nation," Duhamel writes. "It is up to them - each thinks - to restore confidence, impose order, but above all to modernise, reform and innovate."

For Duhamel - a columnist for the left-wing daily Liberation - the point of similarity is with the Corsican general who took over as first consul in 1800 before embarking on a vast programme of domestic reforms, rather than with the "brutal, irresistible, glorious" emperor who was crowned four years later and went on to conquer much of Europe.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, France was mired in post-revolutionary instability. Just like recent times, it was wracked by "crisis, anxiety and disenchantment". In both instances, the country was in search of a "new social model and a new political power bringing together authority and innovation".

"France realises it has to transform itself but it wants to do it without new shocks or convulsions. It wants movement, but with order. And so it demands (from its leader) initiative, ascendancy but also compassion for an ambitious but anxious people," Duhamel writes.

But if Sarkozy and Bonaparte offer the same sense of promise for a beleaguered nation, they also share temperamental defects that make their manner of government idiosyncratic, exasperating and ultimately - for their critics - dangerous.

"Both are hot-tempered, impatient and nervous. They both throw memorable fits of anger, sometimes semi-affected. They are incapable of standing still, they think while they walk, wolf their meals, take decisions even as they speak.

"They are exhausting for their entourages, and often for themselves. They hate it when people oppose them, but they despise yes-men and conformists Their ambition is immense," Duhamel writes.

During Sarkozy's 20 months in office, the Bonapartist urge to "advance on every front" has translated into an almost endless series of personally inspired initiatives, often taken over the heads of his own ministers, who watch powerless from the sidelines.

Only last week Sarkozy unexpectedly announced plans for a fundamental change to the legal system, abolishing the all-powerful figure of the "examining magistrate" (ironically created by Bonaparte). As with so many of Sarkozy's reforms, it was capable of two interpretations: either a courageous modernisation, or an autocrat's wanton whim.

Another controversial reform currently going through parliament - addressing state-run television - invites comparisons with Bonaparte's obsession with image-control.

Just as the Corsican funded newspapers and inundated opinion-formers with self-aggrandising propaganda, so the president is accused of trying to muzzle the modern-day media. "Both set the highest store by the public presentation of their action," says Duhamel.

Both men are also adept at co-opting potential opponents, using a combination of flattery and political favours. Bonaparte succeeded in neutralising the anti-revolutionary monarchists; Sarkozy has done much the same with the Socialists - offering several leading lights a position in government.

Most intriguing of all is the two men's relationship with women. Bonaparte was famously obsessed with Josephine, but they quarrelled and the couple divorced after he came to power. Sarkozy went through a similar pattern with his first wife Cecilia.

However, there the similarity ends because where Bonaparte went on to marry an Austrian archduchess - dumpy but good for breeding - Sarkozy has found a new female totem in the form of a certain Carla Bruni.

Article from: Leading author claims Sarkozy is 'Napoleon in a suit'



Related Articles
Operation Sarkozy - How the CIA planted one of its agents as President of the French Republic
Nicolas Sarkozy in Witchcraft Puzzle?
'The French are miserable but Sarkozy's my Napoleon,' says his lover (or wife) Carla Bruni
Nigel Farage on the New Euro-Nationalists (Video)


Latest News from our Front Page

People are merging with machines
2014 10 20
Ian Burkhart concentrated hard. A thick cable protruded from the crown of his shaven head. A sleeve sprouting wires enveloped his right arm. The 23 - year-old had been paralysed from the neck down since a diving accident four years ago. But, in June this year, in a crowded room in the Wexner Medical Centre at Ohio State University, Burkhart’s ...
Illegal Aliens Cleared For U.S. Military Service
2014 10 18
The Pentagon announced a new policy allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to enlist in the armed forces, Thursday. USA Today reports that the new recruitment policies will focus on people with "high-demand skills" like foreign language acumen and health care training: "For the first time, the program — known as Military Accessions in the National Interest, or MAVNI — will ...
Bronze Age Sundial-Moondial Discovered in Russia
2014 10 16
A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds. The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, including sunrises and moonrises. The sundial might be "evidence of ...
Humans may only survive 68 days on Mars
2014 10 15
Space enthusiasts planning a move to Mars may have to wait to relocate: conditions on the Red Planet are such that humans would likely begin dying within 68 days, a new study says. Oxygen levels would start to deplete after about two months and scientists said new technologies are required before humans can permanently settle on Mars, according to the study ...
Tom Sunic’s letter to the US Ambassador to Hungary
2014 10 14
October 11, 2014 Mr. André Goodfriend Chargé d’Affaires Embassy of the United States of America Szabadság tér 12 H-1054 Budapest Dear Mr. Goodfriend, As an American citizen I would hereby like to express my concern over the recent decision by the Hungarian government to ban the National Policy Institute (NPI) conference which had been scheduled to take place in Budapest from October 3 to October 5, 2014. ...
More News »