Le Petit Nicolas becomes the French President
I was, in retrospect, fortunate to run into Nicolas Sarkozy at LeWeb3 last year (see my photos here). I didn't like his style, presenting, shouting even, non-stop for 30 minutes at us instead of talking with us, as no.3 in the Presidential battle Bayrou did.
But after watching the mid-week head-off debate on television with his competition, Madame la future Présidente, I ended up seeing that he was just as capable and keen on conversation for the change as the next one (pour les francophones, regardez-le en 16 parties sur YouTube).
In fact, this election, 1000 miles away, has been far more interesting and mediatised than the elections on my own doorstep last week. I, like many others, am underwhelmed by the Scottish media's coverage of the events here but fascinated and excited by the French media's passion for politics.
I'm also overwhelmed by the online electioneering they have in France, a country where 16m of the 60m population blog regularly, and where the likes of bloggeur extraordinaire Loic Lemeur become technology advisors to the candidates (the latter making the SecondLife Sarkozy Island for the campaign).
Why might Nicolas be good for France, for the Internet?
He has a strange relationship with the media, as I've suggested. His hard-hitting style, calling those young men in the suburbs "thugs" in an attempt to appeal to the 'average Frenchman', is now, with his winner's speech, becoming much softer. Is this some media advisor who, in the space of minutes, had a chance to let him know that he should assume the wishes of the 47% who didn't vote for him? No. Almost certainly not. I think this is someone who, now that he has won the fight, is ready to play a longer game and win that, too.
Sarkozy, based on his ability to pull out the figures on Wednesday night while his opposition stuttered and spasmed, unable to provide the figures that would show how her policies would translate financially, might actually be the one person capable of bringing employment to the very young men he has sullied in the past.
His desire to create a freer market in France, to allow young people to set up their little company with fewer than the 36 pieces of paperwork currently required, to harness technology and the internet to the full in government, in industry and in the French home, providing an education system that provides a motivating stimulus for learner and teacher alike... all of this provides a means to bring France back up to speed with the rest of Europe in terms of attitudes and expectations of business and the wider world.
Mes chères compatriotes, Le Petit Nicolas hasn't done too badly at all...
Update: Le Petit Loic has also been busy blogging his open letter to the new President (en français), offering his continuing services as Monsieur Web to the cause. That's really all it says, even if the letter is 800 words long ;-)