High-School Protesters Add to Pressure on Sarkozy

The French president's sinking popularity continues to be battered, with a new nationwide protest expected to send more than 1 million angry marchers into the streets this weekend. The protests target Sarkozy's pension-reform plan and are now drawing high-school students, who won't retire until at least 2058.

New Books on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Fascinate

Michelle Obama may not think that her days at the White House are "hell." But, for allegedly suggesting Obama had told her as much, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was on the hot seat after the September release of two new unauthorized biographies of the French first lady. The books, which catalog Bruni-Sarkozy's indiscretions, grabbed headlines around the world and indicate how enduring—though ambivalent—our fascination is with France's mercurial pop star turned première dame.

Algeria, France's Other National Soccer Team

The widely despised French national soccer team will slink home after disgracing itself at the World Cup. But there are so many French-born players on Algeria's national team—eligible thanks to FIFA's new dual-citizenship rules—that they are being called "the other French team."

France Girds Itself For Pension Reform

As the debt-ridden Greek government remains mired in a fight to cut pension benefits and raise the retirement age, Europe's next pension-reform battle is already looming to the west. French president Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing pension reform to the fore of his agenda—but the issue could end up being his Waterloo. It's his most important battle, at the worst time, but it can't wait.

France Girds Itself for Pension Reform

As the debt-ridden Greek government remains mired in a fight to cut pension benefits and raise the retirement age, Europe's next pension-reform battle is already looming to the west. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing pension reform to the fore of his agenda—but the issue could end up being his Waterloo. It's his most important battle, at the worst time, but it can't wait. Sarkozy's current approval ratings, about 30 percent, have never been lower, and midterm...

france can't seal the deal

When Fench president Nicolas ­Sarkozy dines with Barack Obama at the White House this week, expect the smiles to be strained. A pair of multibillion-dollar military-­procurement disputes have marred relations in recent weeks. When Northrop Grumman, in partnership with European aerospace firm EADS, charged favoritism for Boeing and withdrew its bid for a $35 billion Pentagon contract, Sarkozy accused the U.S. of "protectionism." Meanwhile, Sarkozy's recent decision to sell Mistral...

Sarkozy Refuses to Let Camus Rest in Peace

When Albert Camus died in a 1960 car accident in Villeblevin, France, at the age of 46, he was buried in the scenic Provençal village of Lourmarin, where the celebrated novelist had bought a house with the money from his 1957 Nobel Prize. He was drawn to the region for its resemblance to his native Algeria, and his grave lies peacefully in the shade of a cypress tree, beneath a beating sun and buzzing cicadas. It would be, under most circumstances, an uncontroversial spot for a literary hero...

NATO's Secretary-General on Reaching Out to Russia

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been on the job for only six months, but the former Danish prime minister will soon draft a road map for the alliance's next 10 years. He sat down with NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll in his Brussels office last week to discuss his challenges and a new idea for engaging Russia. Excerpts: France just sold a Mistral assault ship to Russia, which has made other NATO members nervous. What's NATO's role here?NATO as such doesn't have a role to play...

Paris Seeks to Become Capital of Islamic Finance

French politics might live uneasily with Islam--battling over burkas, sparring over veils--but French economists are keen to make Islamic finance a crisis buster in Paris. Finance minister Christine Lagarde is trying to attract Islamic banking, which has grown 10 to 15 percent a year since 2003 to become a global industry totaling more than $700 billion today. That's a smart move: the global economic meltdown has made Sharia-compatible finance especially attractive. Islamic banking...

Aging Crisis Will Soon Hit Developing World

Judging by headlines on the U.S.'s and Europe's retirement crisis, you'd think the specter of aging populations plagued only rich countries. But a top French demographer says that developing nations will actually be the hardest hit by the gray wave.  Experts have long warned about the confluence of two trends in the industrialized world: an aging boomer population, which will strain social-security systems; and falling birthrates, which will cause a dearth of able-bodied...

Sarkozy Bullies French Banks Over Bonuses

Why is French President Nicolas Sarkozy leading the charge against greedy bankers? Compared with their British and U.S. counterparts, French banks have been quite solid. They needed less state help, and their bonus pools are more like puddles next to those of say, Goldman Sachs. But Sarkozy has a curious problem: good economic news. France is among the first big nations to pull out of recession. Its stock market is on the mend, banks are rolling again, and jobless numbers are steady. So why...

Christophe de Margerie on Total

The French gas and oil major Total first struck oil near Kirkuk, in Iraq, in 1927, and in July, Total CEO Christophe de Margerie visited the country with French Prime Minister François Fillon and other French business leaders looking to renew commercial ties there. In his La Défense office outside Paris, de Margerie spoke with NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll about France's return to Iraq, Total's interest in Iran, and the company's bad image back home. Excerpts: You're just back from Iraq,...

Honey from Paris Is All the Buzz

To make a pint and a half of honey, a honeybee treks from flower to flower to flower, almost a million times. That's about 25,000 honeybee air miles, or the distance around the world at the equator. Of course, a bee's world is concentrated in a ring around the hive—a radius of meadows, forests, or 40 city blocks. But on the immigrant-rich edges of Paris, a honeybee's rounds really are a trip around the world. Inner-city biodiversity is an echo of its people, of its history, and of...

Sarkozy's Turncoat Strategy

Paging all turncoats: Nicolas Sarkozy is reshuffling his cabinet again. Over the past two years, the conservative French president has offered high-profile jobs to leading Socialists and other prominent lefties, and five of them now hold seats in his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Minister of Immigration Eric Besson. While Sarko's base resents the lost patronage opportunities for fellow conservatives, he seems focused on the upside of what he calls his "ouverture"...

France Back to Old Socialist Ways

Oil giant total is France's biggest company, which means it's also its most hated. It ranked last in a recent poll of France's most popular companies. Its announcement in February that it made a record €13.9 billion ($19.8 billion) profit in 2008 sparked cries of obscenity and a national debate on what good deeds it should perform with its windfall. When it said it would cut 555 jobs at an obsolete French plant, critics howled. It didn't matter that there'd be no outright job losses, or that...

Economic Crisis Brings Sarkozy and Merkel Closer

For all the destructive power of the economic crisis, there's one bridge it's rebuilding: Franco-German relations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are making good on their promise to present a united front against the financial fallout. In a joint letter to the EU presidency last week, the leaders asserted that regulation and fiscal discipline would be their priorities, not new stimulus measures—a position at odds with the U.S. Meanwhile, Berlin gave...

Pages