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Nicolas Sarkozy

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A guide to
French Politics
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Aux armes, citoyens !
Wheut? ... heuld on ... Ah, mon translateur says tu es un peu of un con.

Nicolas "Disco Sarko" "l'Americain" Sarkozy, a.k.a. "le nainWikipedia's W.svg",[1] was the President of France from May 2007-May 2012. He is conservative by French standards, and thus loved by American conservatives, despite being far to their left on many issues, including civil unions, Affirmative Action (a very touchy subject in France), and strong bank regulation. Note that this perception is mostly due to the inertia of the French welfare state system, as confirmed by analysis like Political Compass needing George W. Bush and Silvio Berlusconi to get somebody to his right.[2]

When he was first elected President, many worried that some of his past racially-tinged comments (particularly one about wanting to clean the French suburb-ghettos with a high pressure hose) meant that he was hiding stronger rightist views. However, he cemented a reputation as a decent leader for France and Europe on the international scene. The Roma, presumably, disagree. Among a lot of French people too, his approval ratings plummeted with the financial crisis, and his attempts to return to fear-mongering and populism only helped fuel the Front National. Bigots seem to prefer the original over the copy.

He was once hilariously chased around by Basque protesters on an electioneering visit to the region. While he was on an official visit to Romania, he requested a 20 cm (8 inch) tall stand in order to look taller. The stand hadn't been removed after he finished his speech, so taller speakers had to lean in order to get the microphone. This all caused great mirth in the house.[3]

Despite his planet-sized ego, Sarkozy is right about something at least once a day: "This café is cold" or "carbon tax U.S. goods".[4]

Political career[edit]

Sarkoman begins[edit]

Having freshly graduated in law, a young Nicolas Sarkozy joined the UDR (Union in Defense of the Republic), a gaullist party (right-wing, in support of Charles de Gaulle), whose main motivation was to oppose the 1968 liberal movements. Two years later, the party became the RPR (Gathering for the Republic). He became mayor at 28 and député (member of the parliamentary Assembly) at 34. He became budget minister in 1993. He supported Edouard BalladurWikipedia's W.svg against Jacques ChiracWikipedia's W.svg inside the party, but Chirac won, and was elected president in 1995. Sarkozy was beaten during the European elections of 1999 and took a leave until 2002 when he decided to support Chirac. Chirac was re-elected, the term of office went from 7 to 5 years, and the RPR became the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement). Are you still with us?

Who's the boss?[edit]

Sarkozy was then appointed minister of internal affairs by Chirac (switching to minister of finance in 2004 and back). Having started his strategy of mediatic omnipresence, journalists started teasing Chirac about his new pet, about which he answered "I'm the boss. I command, he executes. I'm afraid this polemic is motivated by a will to put a small -read petty- p in Politics"[5]. Note that the word "fart" in French sounds like "p", the letter. Whether Chirac intended to play on this or not is unclear.

The small president[edit]

Speaking of which: did you know that Sarkozy was only 1m69? (No, I will not lower myself as to use Imperial units; we invented the mètre!) That makes him the smallest President of the 5th Republic of France[6]. As a president, but even before, he made a lot of media appearances, jumping on any hot topic (even if it was not relevant to his position), displaying his private life (which was frowned upon by many French). His mediatic omnipresence likely served as obfuscation to pass new laws quietly or let a scandal settle down, on top of building a certain image of himself. Not that he is the only politician doing that; he was just very proficient at it. Upon being beaten by François Hollande in 2012, he announced his complete withdrawal from political life, returning to his profession of business lawyer.

Catch me if you can[edit]

He is currently involved in 7 judiciary cases, most of them regarding fiscal fraud, an illicit weapons deal, illegal campaign and party funding. He is suspected of abuse of power, corruption of magistrate and breach of professional secrecy, and illegal wiretapping among other fraudster tricks. He blames a political plot to undermine him and a "judiciary harassment".[7]

The Republicans à la française[edit]

After he withdrew in 2012, his party the UMP was left in shambles, drowned in funding scandals and infighting for leadership, and he decided to come back to save it. Somehow, none of the potential candidates seemed to gather as much success from the voters. In 2015, the party was renamed The Republicans, because yes, Sarkozy is quite fond of Murica. He now speaks of running for president again. It may be worth noting that the French President automatically has immunity against prosecution.


Being shown the door[edit]

For the 2017 election, he accepted the principle of a primary election, boasting he would win it easily. He then lost that race in a big way to his old prime minister, ending up third, and subsequently announced his third complete withdrawal from political life.

Economy[edit]

Work more to earn more[edit]

One of his slogans was "Work more to earn more", illustrating his visions of a dedicated working class. More concretely, it meant reducing the costs of overtime for companies.[8] During the crisis he took measures to "protect the French who work despite the pressures, not only the ones that protest" [9]

While, as with any self-respecting conservative, his policies have mostly favored the corporate world, many American conservatives would cringe at some of his stances. He advocated a stronger repression of tax havens, and proposed a tax on financial transactions. When the 2008 hit, he declared that "The dictatorship of the markets means no freedom" [10], followed by a few economic regulation measures. He enjoined the CEO´s to show moral values and responsibilities, notably the ones who would lay off numerous employees while running off with a big fat bonus. This led to the publication of a moral code of conduct for company leaders, with absolutely no legal value.

In Sarkozy´s ideal world, employers are all honest, and employees are all dedicated and hardworking. What´s not to like?

Greece[edit]

Back in 2010, along with his finance minister Christine LagardeWikipedia's W.svg (who would later become president of the IMF), he was in favor of Europe reaching out to help Greece.[11] But as soon as Alexis Tsipras' radical left party Syriza came to power, he claimed they were punks and that Greece was doomed [12]. He went so far as comparing Tsipras to both Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen, respectively far-left and far-right party leaders in France.

Religion[edit]

Sarkozy received a Christian education, and is actually the first French president to display religious practice, including a visit to the Pope in the company of Jean-Marie Bigard, a stand-up comedian renowned for his particularly crude sexual and scatological jokes. Some suspect his faith is not genuine, and in fact a tool to pander to the Christian electorate.[13] He also declared that "France should reconnect with its cultural roots", and accused secularism of having broken them.[14] While it is a break from the century-old secularism of the French Republic, Sarkozy doesn´t exclusively support the Catholic community, as he helped the creation of the French council of the Muslim Faith. His book "La République, la religion, l´espérance" (The Republic, religion, hope), even though critical of secularism, managed to piss off some Chrsitans, because "he only cares about Islam", apparently.[15]

Gay marriage[edit]

He promised before his election in 2007 that his party (UMP) would legalize civil unions for homosexual couples, which was never done, and the promise was not included in his 2012 campaign. He then ditched the idea on the grounds that it wasn´t really in accordance with the constitution. During his comeback in 2014, he blamed the crisis for dropping it out.[16] Meanwhile, the new government had legalized homosexual marriage with the so-called Taubira law, named after Christiane Taubira, the minister who made it happen. In anticipation of the 2017 elections, he said he would revoke the Taubira law. But even his own party (The Republicans, yes they changed name, see above) finds this step back dubious, and suspect it is yet another trick to satisfy the religious electorate.[17]

Science[edit]

Ecology[edit]

At the beginning of his presidential mandate in 2007 Sarkozy organized the Grenelle de l´Environnement, a big climate conference with corporate leaders, trade unions, local associations and green organizations, a première. Sadly this was all words and no actions, as pesticide use, fossil fuels, and road construction were favored or subsidized.[18] Renewable energies, partly in the generation of electricity, was the same in 2010 as in 1997. Sarkozy then declared "enough with the environment" at the agricultural fair in 2010. He also claimed nuclear power was a renewable source of energy. Whether it's because he didn´t pay attention in physics class or because of the strong influence of the nuclear energy industry in France is unclear.

Biological determinism[edit]

Sarkozy believes in genetic determinism.[19] He advocated for early testings among children to detect future offenders. He claims pedophilia is a genetic trait and should therefore be tracked so it can be cured. At least this is in line with the security aspects of his policy.

Sarkozy´s friends[edit]

Networking[edit]

Upon being elected, the first thing he did was spend a three-day vacation on his good friend and billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré´s yacht. The previous owner of the boat (the Paloma) had invited another French president, Valéry Giscard d´Estaing, while Michel Bolloré, the father of Vincent, had invited yet another president, Georges Pompidou on his own yacht. It´s a small world, really. Other very influential businessmen are also his buddies, such as Martin Bouygues, Bernard Arnault, Henri Proglio, Arnaud Lagardère, Jean-Claude Decaux[20] (you might know this one from the advertisement boards present in your city).

The dubious[edit]

Sarkozy chose as ministers Patrick DevedjianWikipedia's W.svg and Gérard LonguetWikipedia's W.svg, who both belonged to the far right group OccidentWikipedia's W.svg. The former remained mostly tame, probably as a consequence of a friendly bathtub chatter within the movement, after they had been caught by the police during a raid. But the latter could still be found blurting out nonsense, claiming homosexuality was the same as pedophilia.

The dumb[edit]

The proof that right-wing politicans can be charitable: one wonders how else someone like Nadine MoranoWikipedia's W.svg could ever become a minister. No one really knows what she does, except emitting stupid and/or offensive comments on twitter. She co-founded Les Amis de Nicolas Sarkozy (Nicolas Sarkozy´s fanboys friends).

Sarkozy's wives[edit]

Sarkozy got a divorce while President of France from Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz, his second wife, and later married model Carla Bruni. Many in the world got a laugh that the First Lady of France had nude pictures up on the Internet, but the novelty soon faded.

In late August 2010, the Iranian Kayhan daily paper called Bruni a "prostitute" after she condemned the stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.Wikipedia's W.svg[21] We wonder their reaction when she then said that gender equality wasn't needed.

More controversy developed after the announcement of a statue dedicated to Bruni in the Paris suburbs.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]