Amid the shouting and brouhaha of the French election campaign, the name that has not been mentioned is that of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was to Britain what Lee Iacocca was to Chrysler. She was elected to reform a British economy running on welfare, deficits, unemployment, strikes, and inflation, and she did it. Britain had become the Sick Man of Europe. Today the British economy is the envy of Europe.
Sarkozy was elected with essentially the same mandate as Thatcher. The contrast with the defender of welfare and political correctness, the Socialist Segolene Royal, could not have been clearer. Whether he will be as successful as Thatcher will unfold over the next five or ten years.
The problem for Americans is whether France, without its snug status quo economy will be as much fun for tourists. Can a recently remodeled restaurant or hotel ever be as good a tourist experience as the old one, unchanged since 1912, was? Can big box malls be far off?