With the announcement, in the course of a 29 January TV interview, of his intention to apply measures inspired by German competitiveness to the French economy, Nicolas Sarkozy has made the German model a campaign issue in the French presidential race.
Having fallen behind in the polls, he has decided to form a campaign duo: now it is he and Angela Merkel, and France and Germany. And two is so much better than one. Since the financial crisis of last summer, which nearly destroyed the Eurozone, Nicolas Sarkozy has made Germany the only argument and the sole reference in his campaign. [But] France is not Germany and there is no situation where only one policy is possible. The election campaign is there to prove it.
For Le Figaro, which even wonders "if the presidential election is likely to be a referendum on the German economic model," Nicolas Sarkozy has “good reasons for playing this particular card."
It is difficult to ask voters to tighten their belts in a period of crisis, and much more effective to ask them to follow the example of a country which is clearly the most successful in Europe. The French are much more likely to be swayed by this argument: never before has Germany had such a high public approval rating.
In this context, the front page of La Croix focuses on the inevitable question: “Is Germany a model?”
Is there a such a thing as a model country, a perfectly mature political system, or an ideal economic orientation that has the capacity to transcend borders, cultures and mentalities? […] Amid the current crisis, which has threatened the finances of European states, Germany stands out as good student, greatly appreciated by the ratings agency examiners for managing its budget without running up deficits. […] We have reached a point where even the Germans, who are not all convinced of their country’s excellence, are surprised. It follows that Germany’s success should be subject to detailed analysis: once this has been done, we will then be able to see if it can be transposed elsewhere.
On this point, Libération remains sceptical:
Obviously, no one is disputing the value of Franco-German entente, which has always been an indispensable driving force in the construction of Europe and a “treasure” that should be preserved. And no doubt France should seek inspiration in the success of its neighbour. However, the President has forgotten to point out that the deregulation of the labour market on the other side of the Rhine has considerably increased precarity and the numbers of working poor. And that the drive for competitiveness has had a negative impact on German social cohesion.