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articles > Culture events


Nicolas Sarkozy in London

By Laura Connell and Pascaline Richir



Nicolas Sarkozy was in London on 30th January ago both to meet Tony Blair and in the hope of securing the expats’ votes. Indeed, there was no shortage of interest on their part. Thousands of London’s French population turned up at the Old Billingsgate Market and waited throughout the afternoon expecting to see the man himself and to gain a seat inside the auditorium. Only 1,500 of them however, were able to do so die to fire regulations, triggering a wave of frustration throughout the expectant crowd. At one point, when people thought that Nicolas Sarkozy was arriving, there was a surge towards the car. The police immediately attempted to avert confrontation, sending a number of their own to hold the crowds back. In the greatest of historical contradictions, there were no burning cars and no violence. These images, too often identified with the French electorate were replaced by those of London’s young French business talent discussing their personal achievements in the capital- those very people that Sarkozy aims to woo back to the ‘patrie’.

Whilst this was going on outside, Sarkozy promised his audience change from May onwards, suggesting that this would be the right time for them to return home. In the short-term, it is insufficient and unconvincing a claim for those who have found jobs, stability and a new home abroad. He has yet to provide the new business generation with adequate incentives to leave a country in which they are appreciated as key workers, this being precisely what pushed them to leave in the first place. It is unlikely that anything other than substantial economic reform and growth, indeed far more long-term incentives, will push them to return home.


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