The tragedy has undeniably favored Sarkozy’s campaign to win a second term in the presidential election set for next month. He was at the helm and acted decisively and responsibly. The political agenda, at least in the short term, has shifted to security, where Sarkozy has a structural advantage compared with his Socialist rival, Francois Hollande. However, as former British prime minister Harold Wilson famously said: “A week is a long time in politics.”
Much can change before the first round of the election. What will most concern French voters when they vote? Will economic fears return to prevail over the security agenda? Or will personal factors dominate, with an “anyone but Sarkozy” reflex on one side and a lack of confidence in the uncharismatic — and possibly unprepared — Hollande?
Merah’s savage attacks are a bitter reminder that terrorism still haunts many societies. Security must be strengthened, while its causes need to be addressed. And we will soon find out whether this spasm of terror was just a tragic parenthesis or a turning point.
Dominique Moisi is the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion.
Copyright: Project Syndicate