Today's Topics: France and Pakistan
We've doubled up on the presenters tonight. Peter will be in Bush House, London and Anu will be live from the Places des Vosges in the fashionable Le Marais district of Paris. If you're in Paris, pop along to the north side of the square and say hello....here's the exact location.
Salut from Anu
Hi there, or should I say Bonjour from Paris! Rabiya and I boarded the train from London bleary-eyed at 0630 this morning. The mostly-empty carriage had us and a few Americans making their way over. I love eaves-dropping on people's conversations (obviously!) The older American gentleman behind us was teaching his companion how to use a hand-held, electronic translator. "Just type in what you want to say," he said. She typed in 'thank-you', and then dissolved into a fit of giggles saying the word 'Merci' in various French and was it Texan? accents. "Take me to your leader," she said, recovering.
We arrived in town just in time to witness the new French president Nicholas Sarkozy in his sharp blue suit addressing the nation from the glittering Elysee Palace. Chomping on a lovely almond pastry and an exquisite baguette, we watched him call for progress and reform. It's cold and cloudy here in France, but Mr. Sarkozy wants to bring in bright new days for the French economy. So we'll be talking to people here about their new president. Will he redefine what it means to be French? Will it 'France for the French'? Or can the man who called rioting second-generation immigrants 'scum' find a way to make France more inclusive?
I remember when we were in the US last year at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC, one young woman said to her peers in France, "I've been to France. Everything was always closed. Are the French lazy?" Far from provoking insult, she prompted some startlingly honest debate about the French attitude towards working hours and benefits. It will be interesting to see what our French guests have to say about Mr. Sarkozy's economic reforms, his attitude towards law, order and immigration ... and his fondness for America (during one of the last days of his campaign, he appeared on a white horse, wearing a red-plaid shirt... almost a la Bush!)
I'm sure you'll have a lot to say about Jacques Chirac as well. Twelve years in office... how will he be remembered?
As always, you can speak to us here in France! Au revoir and bon chance for now.......
Greetings from Peter
Greetings from London everyone -- Peter Dobbie here sitting at Bush House, with the London-end of the show today, Anu Anand's going to be bringing you at least half the programme from Paris -- big day in the French capital.
On the day that Nicolas Sarkozy became the 23rd President of France we want to know what you think about him. Ambitious or what ? ! :-) Enters politics at the ripe old age of 22, is a Mayor by the time he's 28. Well today the new centre-right president succeeded Jacques Chirac after defeating the Socialists' Segolene Royal in the run-offs. We've had his inaugural address, where he spoke of how change was required in France -- he also called for national unity. And he said that France "needs to take risks and follow initiatives," -- all well and good and yes, the people of France voted for him, but they're well known for being well, scared, of change -- so , where next ? Also we want to know what you think about the legacy of Jacques Chirac. Was he a wiley old fox who didn't do very much or was he a wonderful hands on politician who represented a voice of sanity on the world stage.
Also today we want to get into the Pakistan story -- mass protests of the streets, one man, a chief judge called Iftikhar Chaudhry becoming a focus for rebellion and President Pervez Musharraf calling for calm. Not as simple as one man versus another man this. It all began two months ago when President Musharraf suspended Mr Chaudhry -- accusing him of misusing his office for personal gain. Lawyers and opposition parties saw that as an attempt to undermine the judiciary. They say General Musharraf wanted the judge out of the way because he was seen as an obstacle to the president's plans to remain army chief while simultaneously occupying the presidency. Where does this crisis go from here ? Musharraf is the only man in Pakistan for the Americans -- could they (indeed, would they ?) work with someone else ?