The conservative frontrunner in France’s 2007 presidential election has wrapped up his party’s summer conference in Marseille. Flanked by ageing rocker Johnny Halliday, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy gave a closing speech aimed at healing a rift with young voters:
“I propose a republic where civic spirit will become once again the foundation of shared morals and social links,” he said, adding: “Young people of France, everything is possible if you will it.” In a clear reference to young people of ethnic minorities involved in riots last year, Sarkozy said those with different ethnic backgrounds were fully French and should be proud of their country.
The interior minister vowed to cut unemployment, which stands at around nine percent, down to five percent. He also set out his Green credentials for the first time, calling for international environmental legislation. Without any true rival on the political scene, it appears highly likely Sarkozy will be the man selected by the ruling UMP party when it gathers in January to chose its presidential candidate.