Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Sarkozy’

If Sarkozy wins centre-right primary, Marie Le Pen will be next President of France

November 16, 2016

As with the US election, the French election will go to the one with the lower negatives (and bear in mind that Hillary Clinton did indeed have greater negatives where it counted than Donald Trump did).

Nicolas Sarkozy, beat Jean-Marie Le Pen to become president of France in 2007, and lost to Francois Hollande in 2012. He is now trying to win the centre-right primary election in November which would give him a strong chance of to become head of state again in May 2017.

But he begins to sound very much like Le Pen the father and may well meet Marie Le Pen who has broken away from her father to now be a not improbable candidate for President. Sarkozy (who, in my opinion, is about as trustworthy as Tony Blair’s pet snake) begins to sound remarkably like le Pen the father to try and take away Marine Le Pen’s base.

Le Pen versus Sarkozy? image The Telegraph

Le Pen versus Sarkozy? image The Telegraph

The Guardian:“War has been declared on us,” he told Valeurs Actuelles this month as he held court at the summer mansion of his singer-supermodel wife, Carla Bruni. “War. France must be merciless, it must push that fear over to the other side.” Sarkozy is putting forward a platform of hardline policies on French national identity, Islam, and security which veer even further to the far right than his hardline stance in 2012, when he set out to win over voters from Marine Le Pen’s Front National

He wants to ban the Muslim headscarf from universities and public companies, limit the French nationality rights of children born of foreign parents, and ban pork-free options in school canteens so Muslim and Jewish children would no longer be offered a substitute meal.

There are 4 candidates in the primary race,

Alain Juppé, 71, is the centre-right mayor of Bordeaux and former prime minister under Jacques Chirac. Once detested for his attempted pension changes in 1995 and nicknamed “Amstrad” for his robotic efficiency and cold, grey image, he is now France’s favourite politician.

Nicolas Sarkozy, 61, is currently leader of the right’s Les Républicains party. He was French president from 2007 to 2012.

Bruno Le Maire, 47, was an agriculture minister during Sarkozy’s presidency. The Normandy MP has styled himself as the candidate for “renewal”, standing for a new, younger generation in a contest dominated by older candidates.

François Fillon, 62, was Sarkozy’s prime minister, but has since questioned Sarkozy’s style and policies. He is running on a pro-business reform agenda, promising to tackle France’s economic woes.

As in the US election Marie Le Pen and Sarkozy have high negatives:

73% of French people did not want Hollande re-elected next year and 66% did not want Sarkozy back in office, while 63% did not want Le Pen.

Even if Marie Le Pen’s chances are still small, who her opponent will be could become crucial. If Sarkozy wins the right to stand in the first leg by winning the centre-right primary and if he joins Marie Le Pen as one of the two left standing after the first round in April 2017, then I can see Marie Le Pen winning the second round. Between the two of them I suspect that Sarkozy will have the greater negatives.

QuartzOn the face of it, her chances would appear slim. Unlike in the US, the French electoral system is designed to only deliver a president who is endorsed by an absolute majority of the electorate. But Le Pen’s rival parties are in disorder, which could ease her path, unless the electorate can pull together. ……. 

There are two rounds of voting in the French presidential election set two weeks apart. In 2017, the first round will be on Sunday April 23, the second on Sunday May 7.

 An unlimited number of candidates can stand in the first round, provided they gather a certain amount of support from local parliamentarians. If one of them achieves an absolute majority in the first round (50% plus one vote), then they are pronounced president. The fragmented nature of French politics means, however, that this has never happened since the system was set up in 1965. ………. 

There is every possibility that Le Pen will be ahead after the first round in April 2017 so the question is how much chance she has in the second round. ……

In the past, voters have united to prevent the far-right from winning the run off, but France’s other main parties are failing to offer new faces for voters—and recently we’ve seen all too well what can happen when the establishment fails to address the discontent of the people. They are also consumed by their own problems.  The left appears to have collapsed, while right-wing voters are deeply divided about who their candidate should be.  …….

Le Pen’s discourse of “the same old faces and the same old promises” has found some traction against this backdrop. With seven more-or-less familiar figures fighting it out, the contest hardly has the look of new blood about it. It doesn’t help that Sarkozy has various investigations hanging over his head and that Juppé was stripped of the right to stand for election or hold office for two years in 2004. …..

Voters on the left could probably see themselves voting for Juppé if he ended up in the second round with Le Pen but the same is not necessarily true in a Sarkozy/Le Pen contest.

If Sarkozy wins the centre-right primary, Marie Le Pen will be the next President of France. (And I would prefer a strident Marie to a slimy Nicolas).


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Hollande’s France is dragging down the Eurozone and the world

November 15, 2013
Photo - AFP

Photo – AFP

Francois Hollande is a socialist of the old school and about a century behind the times. Fundamentally he has few new ideas beyond tax the rich and create more public sector jobs. He is not even very popular at home just now – but the French have only themselves and Sarkozy’s excesses to blame for having him there. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual excesses also helped. He makes impossible promises with a straight face. He promises to cut state spending without reducing public sector jobs. He will improve competitiveness without  reducing state subsidies. And he has promised to reduce unemployment by the end of this year. Nonsense promises are not doing much for his credibility.

France’s credit rating is falling and even The Guardian has little good to say about his administration:

The GuardianFrance’s second credit-rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s in less than two years is as damaging politically for the socialist François Hollande as it was for his rightwing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost the election shortly after France lost its AAA rating in January 2012.

S&P directly attacked Hollande’s economic policy, questioning the socialist government’s capacity to repair Paris’s stuttering economic motor. It said the problem with France was that the government’s tentative reforms were not enough to lift growth in the eurozone’s second largest economy.

Hollande, recently found to be the most unpopular French president on record in a poll by BVA, was already struggling to sell his economic measures to the nation. “The recovery is here,” Hollande declared in August after a small rebound in growth following months of stagnation. But real, sustained growth is expected to be slow in returning. …… 

And now the economy of France, along with that of Italy, is actually shrinking. The global recovery needs Europe  – and not just Germany – to do its bit. Instead, Hollande’s schoolboy economics are not just threatening the Eurozone recovery but actually threatening to postpone the recovery.

ReutersThe euro zone economy all but stagnated in the third quarter of the year with France’s recovery fizzling out and growth in Germany slowing. The 9.5 trillion euro economy pulled out of its longest recession in the previous quarter but record unemployment, lack of consumer confidence and anaemic bank lending continue to prevent a more solid rebound.

In the three months to September, the combined economy of the 17 countries sharing the euro grew by a slower than expected 0.1 percent. In the previous quarter it rose 0.3 percent – the first expansion in 18 months. The euro fell to a session low in response.

The French economy contracted by 0.1 percent, snuffing out signs of revival in the previous three months. It had been expected to post quarterly growth of 0.1 percent and has now shrunk in three of the last four quarters. ……. 

Unemployment is still increasing even though the number of French seeking jobs outside the country is also increasing. The rich have been fleeing Hollande’s swingeing taxes in droves.

The Telegraph: 

France’s economy has buckled once again amid official warnings of an explosive political mood across the nation that threatens to spin out of control.

French output fell by 0.1pc in the third quarter and Italy remained trapped in recession, dashing hopes of a sustained recovery in Europe. “It is no longer a question of whether the eurozone can achieve ‘escape velocity’, but whether it can grow at all,” said sovereign bond strategist Nicholas Spiro.

The latest data show a continued erosion of France’s industrial base and export share. It risks shattering the credibility of President François Hollande, who has been talking up recovery for months. A YouGov poll showed his approval ratings have dropped to 15pc, the lowest recorded for a French leader in modern times.

While the risk of a eurozone bond crisis has greatly receded since the European Central Bank agreed to act as a lender of last resort in July 2012, this has been replaced by slow economic attrition. It resembles the mid-1930s slump under the Gold Standard and is fuelling political crises in a string of countries.

Le Figaro said loss of confidence in the French government is turning dangerous, citing a confidential report based on surveys by “prefects” in each of the 101 departments. “All across the country, the prefects described the same picture of a society that is angry, exasperated and on edge. A mix of latent discontent and resignation is being expressed through sudden eruptions of fury, almost spontaneously,” said the document. The report warned that people were no longer venting their feelings within normal social structures. Increasing numbers are questioning the “legitimacy” of taxes. …… 

But there is no sign that Hollande will change from his classic policies of more taxes to support a profligate state sector and a bloated welfare system. Regulated austerity is called for but Hollande’s approach will only lead to an unregulated, painful and enforced austerity as in Greece and Spain.

I still believe in Europe and in many French firms but I have taken the precaution of shifting some of my (small) savings out of French stocks. France has not reached its bottom yet!

More turmoil awaits Europe as Sarkozy loses and Greeks vote against Europe

May 6, 2012

Sarkozy has lost in France according to Belgian and Swiss sources though the exit polls in France are not yet out. Hollande is expected to win by 5%.

The exit polls are also out in Greece.

In Greece, the only two parties supporting the Eurozone bailout and the austerity measures – PASOK and New Democracy – will probably not be able to form the next government. And that means that the chances of Europe leaving the Euro are greatly enhanced. In the short term this will cause massive turbulence in the Eurozone.

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Sarkozy attacks Cameron – much to Cameron’s delight

October 24, 2011

While European leaders are struggling to put together a rescue package for Greece which will not have a domino effect for Italy and Spain or drown too many European banks, David Cameron is facing renewed opposition to membership in the EU from within his own party. But it is not only in the UK that opposition to the growing exercise of powers by Brussels is increasing. Almost every EU member which has not adopted the Euro (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK along with some of the newer members) has rising voices calling for the limitation of European power and a return of powers to the country parliaments. Voices against the Euro can even be heard in Germany where there is a widespread feeling ( not entirely wrong) that German taxpayers are paying twice for the spendthrift ways of Southern Europe; first directly by subsiding these countries and secondly by the devaluation of their savings in Euro. The Swiss are just thankful that they were never a part of this experiment.

In hindsight, what has become obvious is that the Euro-zone has few built in sanctions to prevent the profligacy of some countries which has to be paid for by others. What is also becoming clear is that without a fiscal uniformity – which would seem like being taxed from Brussels – the possibility of  “bad” members being spendthrift will always remain.

France has always seen the Euro as part of a long-term move towards a European political and fiscal uniformity in which France would be the centre of political power. A return to the glory days of the Holy Roman Empire which lasted over 800 years, except of course that the centre would be in France rather than in what today is Germany. Sarkozy could certainly see himself as the first Emperor.

Yesterday, as the Telegraph reports:

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DSK case collapsing: Was this just French politics to kill his Presidential aspirations?

July 1, 2011
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (L) ...

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (L) talks with International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (R):Image via Wikipedia

The New York Times broke this story and it makes me wonder if the anti- DSK faction in France were behind all of this just to get him out of the running for French President and – incidentally – to replace him with a Sarkozy-friendly Christine Lagarde at the IMF. With the internecine nature of French politics  reality is often much more convoluted than the most fanciful conspiracy theories. Perhaps Sarkozy  – who loves devious political machinations – was behind all of this?

The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials. …. 

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said. Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering. …. 

The revelations are a stunning change of fortune for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was considered a strong contender for the French presidency before being accused of sexually assaulting the woman who went to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel New York.

Prosecutors from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who initially were emphatic about the strength of the case and the account of the victim, plan to tell the judge on Friday that they “have problems with the case” based on what their investigators have discovered, and will disclose more of their findings to the defense. The woman still maintains that she was attacked, the officials said.

“It is a mess, a mess on both sides,” one official said.

According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.

The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.

In addition, one of the officials said, she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.

Sarkozy is using the Sendai quake and Fukushima troubles to play politics

March 16, 2011

Sometimes Sarkozy’s opportunism for gaining economic advantage is almost as vulgar as bunga bunga Berlusconi’s sex parties. But it is also – I think – a very clever move. Sarkozy is attempting to take a pre-emptive lead by being in the forefront of denigrating the Japanese nuclear program so that he can – by contrast – promote French nuclear technology and the French  nuclear plant manufacturer Areva and thus preserve the French dependence on nuclear power.

I predict his line will be that the Japanese nuclear plants were old fashioned and that French nuclear technology is different and inherently safe. He will walk the fine line between supporting “the Japanese people in their hour of need” while criticising TEPCO, its handling of the Fukushima problems and the outdated technology (the 6 reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi were built starting in 1963 and came into operation between 1970 and 1979).

From the BBC:

No other country relies as heavily as France on nuclear power. It relies on nuclear power for 75% of it domestic supplies. It has 19 plants and 58 reactors. France is also at the forefront of nuclear technology, and President Sarkozy knows the debate over nuclear energy following events in Japan will affect the fortunes of the giant nucelar group Areva.

Like other countries, France is to check its nuclear reactors following the problems in Japan. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s faith in the country’s nuclear programme seems unshaken. “France has made the choice of nuclear energy, which is an essential element of its energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gases,” he told his cabinet today. “This choice has been unseparable from an unfaltering undertaking to ensure a very high level of safety at our nuclear installations. I remain today convinced of the pertinence of these choices.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will call a special G20 meeting to discuss the energy sector in light of events in Japan. France currently holds the G20 presidency. France has also called a meeting of G7 finance ministers to respond to the crisis in Japan, Reuters reports. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says the meeting will look at “how we can take part in their debt issues and how we can react on a financial level”.

From Paris, the BBC’s Christian Fraser says that France’s decision to offer it Tokyo-based citizens the chance to leave is partially motivated by domestic political problems. “Obviously it is a precaution and they might be accused of scaremongering but their new Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has been keen to get on the front foot, to show that they are in charge of the situation,” he said.

Related:  Does France have special information about Fukushima?

France takes the lead and recognises Libyan rebels while Gaddafi’s envoys head for Brussels

March 10, 2011

The new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is now moving fast to try and rectify a string of blunders and to try and restore some cohesion to French foreign policy. After the lightweight flitting about of Michelle Alliot-Marie and her Tunisian holidays, the weight of the former French Prime Minister is beginning to be felt. Though the news was reported by Sarkozy’s office I suspect that Alain Juppé has multiple objectives with this move. And one of them is to show that French Foreign policy can be taken seriously. His biggest task will be to tame Sarkozy’s arrogance and  impetuousness.

Alain Juppé, former French Prime Minister

Alain Juppé: Image via Wikipedia

BBC reports:

France has become the first country to recognise the Libyan rebel leadership, the National Libyan Council (NLC), as the country’s legitimate government. The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Paris regarded the NLC as Libya’s “legitimate representative”. …

….

Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the French move was “breaking the ice”, adding that he expected other EU members to follow suit.

However Italy and Spain have said they will not take a similar step until European Union members have reached a common position on the issue.

EU foreign ministers will also hold talks in Brussels, ahead of a European Council summit on Friday.

But France 24 reports that Gaddafi’s envoys are also on their way to Brussels for some lobbying activity:

…. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers started the ball rolling mid-morning, preparing a full summit of leaders the next day.

Britain and France are lobbying for United Nations Security Council support for a no-fly zone. Anxious Washington wants any military action conducted under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with Arab regional backing seen as essential.

“Some think this could protect civilians from aerial bombardment, others fear risks in terms of how it would play with Arab public opinion,” said a top EU official who asked not to be named.

On the headline initiative of enforcing a no-fly zone over a country vaster than restricted air exclusion areas over Iraq or the Balkans in past conflicts, “countries are divided” over operational input and scope, added the source.

The meetings follow a flurry of diplomatic activity that Thursday saw France extend official recognition to the rebel Libyan national council whose representative had earlier lobbied the European parliament. France and Germany urged European partners to engage in dialogue with the rebels.

On Wednesday Kadhafi sent his own envoys to Europe and they were reportedly heading for Brussels. Asked to confirm, an EU official said “we don’t know for certain”.


New French Foreign Minister moves quickly to rectify Sarkozy’s blunders

February 28, 2011
Michèle Alliot-Marie

Alliot-Marie: Image via Wikipedia

Sarkozy has always given me the impression of being rather condescending with former colonies and of running a foreign policy based almost entirely on short-term economic benefit. The French Government – as most others – has been caught completely unprepared by the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. But Sarkozy and his ministers have been particularly inept with Tunisia and Egypt and to some extent with Morocco and Libya.

Foreign Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie was stupid enough not only to accept air travel and holidays from Ben Ali’s friends but also to actually offer French support for the Tunisian security services when the demonstrations first began. Alliot-Marie’s partner, Patrick Ollier is also accused of using his close relationship with Muammar Gaddafi to secure French arms deals with Libya. He remains in the cabinet in charge of parliamentary affairs but she has now been sacked by Sarkozy. The Prime Minister, Francois Fillon who also accepted free holidays paid for by Mubarak remains in place.

Sarkozy also found another scapegoat in Pierre Menat the Ambassador in Tunis and sacked him as well. His replacement – the brash and arrogant Boris Boillon – then went and endeared himself to the Tunisians by immediately throwing a tantrum and calling the Tunisian press “stupid” at a press briefing on his arrival. Naturally the video found its way to You Tube ( 2:40 into the video). The Tunisians demanded his removal and he was forced to apologise.

“I say I am sorry, I regret my words, I was stupid,” Ambassador Boris Boillon said over state television. “I ask for the forgiveness of all Tunisians.” Tunisians are deeply suspicious of former colonial ruler France’s role in supporting Ben Ali, who ran the North African country repressively for more than 20 years.

Sarkozy is known for not caring much for diplomats while diplomats consider him impulsive and an amateur:

Mr Sarkozy has been criticised for several years over the way his government has run foreign policy. Critics accuse him of riding roughshod over foreign service chiefs at the Quai d’Orsay while keeping key decisions in the hands of his Chief of Staff Claude Gueant.

Last week an open letter from a group of diplomats, published in the newspaper Le Monde, slammed the “amateurism” and “impulsiveness” of Mr Sarkozy’s policy. Former ambassador Jean-Christophe Rufin criticised the “damage” done to France’s image. “Contrary to the announcements trumpeted for the past three years, Europe is powerless, Africa escapes us, the Mediterranean will not talk to us, China has tamed us and Washington ignores us!” wrote the diplomats.

The letter was seen as a response to Mr Sarkozy’s claims that his ambassadors in Arab capitals had failed to foresee the North African unrest.

It is now the more sober Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister, who will be given the job of restoring France’s diplomatic credibility as the country’s new foreign minister. He will seek to ensure France takes the right approach to the pro-democracy movement.

And, significantly, Mr Sarkozy is moving Claude Gueant, his wing-man for years and the driver of his foreign policy, to be interior minister – a move seen as a concession to Alain Juppe, who will want to run foreign affairs his way.

The new Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is now moving fast to try and rectify a string of blunders and to try and restore some cohesion to French foreign policy.

Now comes a French move to win hearts and minds in the new Libya: the first consignment of humanitarian aid. The two planes France sent to the eastern city of Benghazi carried doctors, nurses, medicine and medical equipment to ease the pressure on hospitals in the east of Libya.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon hailed “the beginning of a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of the liberated territories. And you will have seen that France was in the forefront of the decisions taken to sanction Col Gaddafi,” he said. “We were the ones who called on the European Council to adopt a joint position on this matter.”

The French moves are a start and almost forced on them since  the writing is already on the wall. Whether Alain Juppe will be able to inject a measure of principle into French foreign policy and lift it up from the level of the pig-trough remains to be seen.

But with Sarkozy’s approval ratings at less than 30% and a difficult presidential election coming up in 2012, his amateurish impulsiveness and his quest for short-term gains may prevent foreign policy from being about anything else.


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