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France's Sarkozy emerging as leading figure

President Nicolas Sarkozy heads to Asia this week to broach the idea of bringing India and China together with G-8 nations in a 'Bretton Woods II' framework of economic rules.

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Out front: President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken a top role in getting the world's leaders together to tackle the global economic crisis.

Vincent Kessler/Reuters

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A year ago, France's new president raced around Europe looking frenetic. Nicolas Sarkozy's wife had left him, critics pointed to a lack of discipline and a royal style of rule – a man who moved but didn't shake – and his popularity nosedived.

This week Mr. Sarkozy worked with President Bush to set up a series of meetings to reform the global economy, and he's now off to Asia to broach the idea of bringing India and China together with G-8 nations in a "Bretton Woods II" framework of economic rules. This comes just weeks after he moved with alacrity to broker a cease-fire deal to end the Georgia-Russia war.

Critics still point to Sarkozy's proclivity to turn politics into a show and to unashamedly take credit whenever possible. Yet in the space of a summer he has consolidated his power and blended substance with showmanship, and is now winning praise as a crisis leader in a more multipolar world.

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