Politics in contemporary France draws on a strong sense of history and culture, and French political identity is anchored in the past. In a society where the status quo is deemed to represent over two hundred years of democratic achievement and social progress, promoting change is a politically risky business. Following his election as French President in May 2007, however, Nicolas Sarkozy claimed that the French people were impatient for change, and promised for his part to make a clean break — a rupture — with what he saw as outdated political ideologies and practices of the past. This was a bold strategy, but it was also in the spirit of the Fifth French Republic itself, which was designed to tame French political life through the shock of new and revitalized institutions, and to marry France’s colourful past to the demands of the present.
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