Winners and Losers
Even though the left and right have been building the gallows on which to hang Sarkozy, he may come out ahead
in the political scheme of things.
Unless Mr. Chirac can somehow take charge of the crisis and end it quickly, many people believe he could be a spent political force after the crisis dies down.
Mr. Sarkozy could confound his critics and emerge stronger politically when it is over. His forceful performance continues to fascinate the French news media, though a worsening crisis would carry high risk for him.
Mr. Villepin initially distanced himself from Mr. Sarkozy's hard-line position but was slow in coming up with a promised "action plan" of his own that would address the frustration of youth born to immigrants. He closed ranks with Mr. Sarkozy as the violence grew, eventually declaring the country's first state of emergency in 50 years.
Whatever points Mr. Hollande is making, the Socialists appear to be in too much disarray to pose a credible threat yet to Mr. Chirac's governing party.
The rioting seems to play into Mr. Le Pen's arguments, but any support he may garner could be diluted by the loss of some of his voters to Mr. Sarkozy.