Well, we have a new president. He's a member of the last president's political group, so I'm surprised at all the articles starting with 'France Swings to the right!' It's true that the UMP is a conservative party inasmuch as it's opposed to the Socialist party, which comprises most of the 'left'. The UMP is a new party, created by Jacques Chirac, so most of his actions will remain in place. I can't see Sarkozy doing much to change things, but I can make a few predictions.
His first move will probably be lowering taxes, starting with those of 'big businesses' and helping the wealthy. This will spark resentment and make any other changes he has in mind more difficult. His next move will be to try and appease the youth of France - (over 75% of the 25 and younger voted for Segolin Royal because of her platform on new jobs.) He will probably make some sort of law about the working contracts, which give experience (but not jobs) to young job seekers. What he will need to do is abolish them completely, but I doubt he will. The universities will be watching him closely, as they have demanded more independence, and he has promised to give it to them.
He will try to break up the strong French unions. In that, he will fail. He will also try to install what he calls a 'minimum service' law, to insure service during strikes (he's already afraid of the strikes to come.) But unless he mobilizes the military, like they do in the US, he won't get far.
He will raise the cost of alcohol and cigarettes to pay for his tax cuts.
He will try to raise the price of diesal, will fail, and will raise the price of gas. He will say it's to help combat global warming, which is one of his rallying cries.
He will scuttle the 35 hour work week, and will probably make a wage freeze. My husband says he will not send troops to Iraq, but I can predict he'll send one of our warships over to the Gulf to 'help out'.
He's a very smart guy, and I can't stand him, but I'm willing to wait and see. France needs a financial makeover in order to open the market so that the young can get jobs. Unfortunately, Sarko will not help there. France's institutions are frozen by cronyism, and the rich help the rich, while the public sector is completely overblown and rusted shut. No one can get in or out.
We have a great educational system and wonderful healthcare, and I doubt that will change. But it might be harder for immigrants to get jobs, the young will get more and more dissatisfied, and there will be a few years of 'thin cow', as the French like to say.
But maybe a thin cow will be more lively and stronger than the fat cow we have right now.
So what are a few strikes?
Good Luck Sarko!