French president Nicolas Sarkozy is stepping up to challenge German chancellor Angela Merkel for the leadership of Europe, Der Spiegel reports, and the result will be first-rate political spectacle. The two alpha heads of state, who met today in Toulouse, have very different styles: Merkel is restrained and accute; Sarkozy pugnacious and hyperactive.
While he relishes high-stakes duels, she wins by attrition, with the occasional withering sarcasm. Issues range from economics to foreign policy; Germany (among other nations) is fuming over a surprise initiative from the French foreign minister calling for concessions from Israel in the Mideast peace process. (Read more Nicolas Sarkozy stories.)