Even though I follow and try to be involved in European center-right politics, I have mostly avoided the Sarkozy love-fest on the American right. However, I think that E.J. Dionne had a nugget that I think captures the deep truth of what happened:
And where Royal won by almost 3 to 2 among public-sector workers (she also carried students and the unemployed), she lost private-sector workers (as well as the retired). The left can’t win without a better showing among workers in the private economy.
In 1989 ,Stephen Harper, today the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada but then the Policy Director of the Reform Party, wrote in a memo to Preston Manning, the head of the party, that the core conflict of modern politics is between the private sector workers on the right and the public sector workers on the left, not a distributional one.
In the "most economically developed" states, that is essentially the conflict. Look at California, where the public employee unions are public enemy number one for most Republicans. Quite correctly so.
Going back to France for a moment, consider this nugget from the Economist’s European blog:
But the big question, as one said to me this afternoon, is what happens now. Will Sarko, the quintessential man of action, actually be able to carry out his campaign promises: to cut the personal tax burden from a maximum of 60% to 50%; to impose heavier sentences for repeat offenders; to lower unemployment by allowing the easier hire-and-fire measures that are normal elsewhere; to relax the rules of the 35-hour week (“work more to earn more” was Sarko’s biggest campaign slogan); above all, to reform the pension rights of the public sector and guarantee a minimum of public service whenever France’s public-sector workers indulge their appetite to go on strike?
The American labor movement has shattered. We now have the service workers union, SEIU, and the public employee unions, AFSCME (but also AFGA) who are on the cutting edge politically. The industrial unions do not matter much in France (8%, even less than here) and they no longer dominate the debate here. It is the public employee unions who are truly bankrupting our country. (And France’s)
Something to consider as we enter what may be the next phase of political and economic development. Is this the face of politics in the age of globalization?