Lesson From France
First, to call Sarkozy's policies "austerity" is to insult both austerity and socialism. The French government--like other European governments--sought to close its budget gap primarily by raising taxes, not by cutting the size and cost of government. Neither Sarkozy nor Hollande had the courage to confront the basic, failed structure of France's welfare-state economy, which is the fundamental cause of its budget problems.
Insofar as French politicians have relied on tax increases as the key to deficit reduction, that is far closer to the policy of U.S. President Barack Obama and his Democrats than to the approach of the Tea Party and the Republicans. Even so, American media commentators like Joan Walsh and Paul Krugman are blaming Congress and "austerity" for slow economic growth--though federal spending keeps growing...
...The French electorate has been disappointed in both of the main candidates--so much so that some voters chose "Biquette, the goat" as an alternative. Sarkozy lost because, like nearly a dozen other European leaders, he lacked the courage to make the harsh but necessary reforms to set France right. The lesson for both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. is that political cowardice is no longer an option.