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Nicolas Sarkozy

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Nicolas "Disco Sarko" "l'Americain" Sarkozy, a.k.a. "le nainWikipedia",[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 against Jacques ChiracWikipedia 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 (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 and Gérard LonguetWikipedia, who both belonged to the far right group OccidentWikipedia. 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 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[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]

Kadhafi connection[edit]

Before Sarkozy became president, relations between France and Gaddafi-led Libya were often strained (France went to war in the 70's and 80's against Libya in Tchad, and Libya downed a french passenger plane in 1989). Around 2005, several french officials that were close to then Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy made visits to Libya, even though their assignment had nothing to do with foreign policy. After Sarkozy was elected, he became (contrarily to previous french policy) extremely friendly to Gaddafi, inviting him in 2007 and allowing him to put up his tent in the gardens of a prestigious Paris building. Sarkozy boasted commercial and industrial contracts signed during this visit, including over armament and nuclear energy.[23]

In the spring of 2012, shortly before the presidential election that Sarkozy ultimately lost to François Hollande, the investigative online journal Mediapart published two documents that seemed to indicate that Sarkozy had received €50 millions from the Gaddafi-led Libyan state to fund his victorious presidential campaign in 2006-2007[24] (apart from the corruption, this support breached numerous french electoral laws, including the ones limiting campaign expenses to around €20 millions, forbidding foreign donations, and limiting individual donations to €7500). This seemed to confirm allegations that had sprung up before and during the western intervention in the libyan revolution/civil war of 2011, that alleged that Sarkozy had strongly supported intervention in Libya because Gaddafi threatened to reveal the corrupt pact they had concluded years earlier (Kadhafi died in egregious circumstances[25] during this war, and to this day there are allegations that french special forces played a part in his execution[26]).

The day after the second document was published, which was between the two rounds of the french presidential election, Shukri Ghanem the former head of the Libyan state-owned National Oil Corporation (the main source of revenue for the Libyan government and a very important tool in Libyan foreign policy), was found dead in the Danube River in Vienna, where he was exiled. His death was described in the leaked Clinton e-mails as "highly suspicious"[27]. However, Ghanem was a conscientious man, and he kept a notebook in which he recorded all significant events he took part in. This notebook somehow arrived in the hands of french judges who were investigating Sarkozy's campaign finance (in France, most complex investigations are conducted by special judges called juge d'instruction, and not by prosecutors, who are widely regarded as controlled by the executive branch which appoints them), and they were very pleased to find that Ghanem recorded several cash handouts to the Sarkozy campaign in 2007 (amounting to €6.5 millions)[28].

About a month after, one of the several suspected intermediaries between the Libyan and French regimes, French-Lebanese national Ziad Takieddine (who was already well-known to have taken part in some shady dealings relating to illegal campaign financing of a faction of french right-wing politicians through overpriced arms deals, and who was instrumental in preparing several of the deals that were signed between Sarkozy and Gaddafi in 2007), surrendered to the French police and confessed to having transported €5 millions in cash from Libya to France in 2006-2007, delivering it directly to the French Ministry of the Interior, which Sarkozy occupied before the presidential election. Just before he did so, he gave an interview to Mediapart that summarized his claims[29]. This interview was widely interpreted as an attempt by Takkiedine to protect his own life, deducting that once he talked there would be no need to "silence" him.

French judges uncovered other circumstantial evidence for this corruption, such as an abundance of cash in the 2007 campaign whose origin the campaign treasurer was at pains to explain. There was also the discovery that notorious Sarkozy right-hand man Claude Guéant had rented a safe large enough to contain a standing adult during the campaign, which according to him was for secure storing of Sarkozy speeches[30].

Sarkozy mounted a legal defense that challenged any and all formal action taken by the judges in court, taking advantage of the french judicial system. This slowed the case considerably, even if he for now lost all of his challenges. As such, even though Sarkozy is widely regarded in France, especially on the left, as being obviously guilty in this case, there is no certainty of when he will indeed face justice, if he does at all. The public's perception of him as largely corrupt was instrumental in his defeat of 2012.

It should be noted that the French Left has consistently used the military intervention in Libya as a counterexample, drawing on the alleged immorality of it, to decry intervention especially in the Syrian context.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Likewise, Marine Le Pen was given the codename "Voldemort."
  2. Political compass analysis
  3. Sarkozy's lift causes mirth in Romanian parliament
  4. Samson, Thomas, "Sarkozy proposes carbon tax on US goods if Trump scraps Paris climate pact", Radio France Internationale (Modified 14-11-2016 at 2:39pm).
  5. Garden Party at the Elysée, French TV archives
  6. Presidential morphology
  7. Sarkozy denounces plot and judiciary harassment (fr)
  8. wp:Défiscalisation des heures supplémentaires
  9. Beyond the text, a speech of social classes (French)
  10. Sarkozy advocates capitalism ethics (in French)
  11. Nicolas Sarkozy pledges French support for beleaguered Greek economy
  12. Sarkozy and the European right in a crusade against the radical left
  13. Sarkozy is a Catholic, but none is fooled (French)
  14. Sarkozy´s speech in Latran, 2007
  15. | Review of his book by a group of christian traditionalists
  16. Sarkozy goes back and forth on civil union (French)
  17. Sarkozy´s position on the Taubira law contents none (French)
  18. How Sarkozy buried ecology (fr)
  19. Sarkozy and determinism (fr)
  20. The president´s rich friends (French)
  21. Iranian media warned after paper calls Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a 'prostitute'
  22. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/feb/12/carla-bruni-sarkozy-bronze-statue
  23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7135788.stm
  24. https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/120312/presidentielle-2007-Gadhafi-aurait-finance-sarkozy
  25. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/globalpost-qaddafi-apparently-sodomized-after-capture/
  26. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/french-secret-service-killed-gaddafi-sarkozys-orders-reports
  27. https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/12199
  28. https://www.mediapart.fr/en/journal/france/270916/revealed-2007-notebook-detailed-sarkozys-libyan-election-funding?onglet=full
  29. https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/151116/takieddine-j-ai-remis-trois-valises-d-argent-libyen-gueant-et-sarkozy?onglet=full
  30. https://www.nouvelobs.com/politique/20150723.OBS3040/affaire-des-tableaux-claude-gueant-avait-un-coffre-fort-geant.html