After all, Sarkozy’s popularity in those ubiquitous opinion polls might have risen since he officially launched his campaign, but he still has some ground to make up on his main rival, Alain Juppé.
|Nicolas Sarkozy (screenshot Euronews “Zapping” August 2016)|
More importantly, no matter how sceptical you might be about the veracity of opinion polls, a whopping 79 per cent of the French don’t want to see Sarkozy at the Elysée palace.
Not surprising really as he has already had the job once.
And, in spite of all his pugnacity, Sarkozy proved he really wasn’t up to achieving much on political, economic and social fronts, while reducing the role of president to that of an often ill-mannered (“Casse-toi alors, pauv' con !”) impetuous caricature.
Then there’s his programme (as outlined in his latest bestseller “Tout pour la France”) - an almost knee-jerk reaction to the increase in support over the past years for the far right Front National by proposing policies that would move LR further to the right and taking a hard line on identity, immigration and security.
But most importantly there’s the so-called Bygmalion affair - when Sarkozy’s party, then known as Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) allegedly “connived with a friendly PR company (Bygmalion) to hide the true cost of his 2012 presidential election campaign” and thereby breaking the limits allowed on campaign spending.
On Monday, the French prosecutor's office recommended that Sarkozy should stand trial for breaching campaign spending limits.
“A crude political manoeuvre”, claimed Sarkozy supporters and in particular his lawyer, Thierry Herzog; the inference being that the judicial system bowed to pressure from the Elysée palace.
And the timing - coming as it did on the opening day of the trial of Jérôme Cahuzac (remember, the former budget minister in charge of cracking down on tax evasion who was forced to resign in April 2013 after he admitted he had held a secret foreign bank account for about 20 years) was too much of a coincidence and simply evidence that the government (read, the French president, François Hollande) was “using the French justice system to divert attention (from the opening of the trial).
Yes, well. There might well be some credibility on both counts as few would maintain that politicians are the most ethical of creatures.
But, here’s the crux of the matter. It’s not really important whether Sarkozy - as he claims - knew nothing about the false accounting and overspending, the fact remains that he was the beneficiary.
“That’s why he should withdraw,” said Christophe Barbier, managing editor of the weekly news magazine “L’Express” on his morning slot on BFM TV.
“He was maybe unaware of what was happening,” said Barbier. “But he was the one who benefitted (from the incredible overspending and false accounting) politically and electorally. And that’s the reason he should withdraw,” he repeated, “If only for reasons of humility.”
Yes. Well. Hardly one of Sarkozy’s main attributes.