Shock and social media awe: Sarkozy campaign, day one

Earlier this evening, Nicolas Sarkozy launched the most uphill battle for reelection of any French President of the Fifth Republic.

Sarkozy is both lurching to the right and playing the European statesman card.  Acknowledging that the next five years would be different from the first five, he continued to call for separate referenda on both immigration and on unemployment benefits, with French unemployment at a 12-year high of 9.3 percent. Sarkozy harkened back to his 2007 message of rupture with the past; he noted that for 30 or 40 years, work has been devalued, and he promised that anyone with the health and desire to work will have a job or training:

Depuis trente ou quarante ans, on a dévalorisé le travail. Mon projet, c’est de mettre le travail au centre de tout. Tous ceux qui ont la force la santé pour travailler auront un emploi ou une formation. Et ceux qui n’en peuvent plus, qui sont malades, on aura la solidarité.

He also noted that France and Europe cannot pretend that they are not in the midst of a crisis — intimating, of course, that it is no time to change leaders in one of the two countries vital to the continued aversion of a Europe-wide implosion.

Nothing I can write about the policy or political substance of the reelection announcement, however, compares with the social media campaign that the Sarkozy team has put together, which is nothing short of ‘shock and awe’.

From @WhiteHouse:

Welcome to Twitter @NicolasSarkozy. Here’s a pic of President Obama mtg with President Sarkozy in the Oval Office:

And you should see the President’s newly unveiled Facebook Timeline, which is so impressive that the media and rivals speculate that Facebook itself helped him organize it.
In a world of social media, the Sarkozy campaign’s biggest surprise is that it is ready for a battle — and then some — with a splashier web presence than any of his rivals, matching the online savviness (or perhaps more) of American President Barack Obama. Certainly, it’s a more 21st century approach to web presence than either British Prime Minister David Cameron or Sarkozy’s erstwhile supporter, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Imagine, if you will, Mario Monti — or Romano Prodi or Silvio Berlusconi — running for office in Italy with an exactingly curated Facebook Timeline.)
What’s clear, on day one of the Sarkozy campaign, and with only 67 days to go until the first round of voting, is that this isn’t a President who is going to go down without quite a fight, online and beyond.

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