Sarkozy in the saddle

It’s been clear since day one of his presidency that Nicolas Sarkozy would soon have a showdown with the powerful French unions. After all, even Sarkozy’s reactionary predecessor Jacques Chirac recognized the need to reform the staggering retirement packages that key unions have secured for their members. Chirac, though, was unwilling to fight for reform after 1995, when strikes paralyzed the country. Thus, the problem was left for Sarkozy, and throughout his presidential campaign he signaled his clear intention to take it on.
The question was: would Sarkozy succeed where Chirac had failed? I was less than confident that he would until I heard Sarkozy speak at the French embassy earlier this month. In talking to embassy personnel after Sarkozy’s speech (which itself inspired confidence), I was told that nearly all of Sarkozy