Tags: France | Sarkozy | debate | identity

Sarkozy Ends French National Identity Debate

Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010 10:01 PM


France President Nicolas Sarkozy had sought to use a national identity debate to heal social rifts and propel himself to victory in the polls. But three months on, the debate has been dropped and Sarkozy's standing harmed.

he French Elysee is quietly dropping one of its more cherished and controversial projects – a "national identity" debate that went haywire almost immediately and threatens to harm President Nicolas Sarkozy in crucial elections this March.

According to a French ruling party script set last November, the nation would discuss on the Internet, then in town halls and cities, enduring French values like liberty, equality, and fraternity, and the Gallic genius behind the works of Hugo and Camus.

The conversation would lead to agreement on what it means to be French, at a time when immigration anxieties are high and just a few years after rioting in poor, immigrant-dominated neighborhoods around Paris shook the nation.

By early February, the plan went, President Sarkozy would give a triumphal speech bringing it all together in time for the French to vote.

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