IT as not unexpected after his stunning victory in the Presidential contest, but Nicolas Sarkozy's runaway victory in last Sunday's first stage of the French parliamentary elections was deeply impressive. If the second round next Sunday goes as impressively his way then he will almost have a parliamentary blank cheque for the implementation of the urgent reforms he has persuaded the French people are necessary to the nation's economic and social health.
The probability is that M. Sarkozy will have 450 or more supporters in parliament out of a total of 577. On that basis all the other parties, including the Socialists, will have been decimated. There are several interesting aspects to the likelihood of such a popular President. One is that he has almost immediately restored the authority and leadership expected of a president in France after Jacques Chirac's lacklustre final years. Another is the appeal of his broadly constructed cabinet which brings together people from across the political spectrum. It is, however, in this team of all the talents that Nicolas Sarkozy's greatest weakness may be found. The idea of men and women of good will coming together in a common cause is an attractive one but in the past many idealistic governments have failed when the hard test of politics have had to be faced. Over time M. Sarkozy will have to show leadership of an exceptional quality to hold his team together to deliver his reforms.