French politics

The outgoing candidate

Sarkozy officially is running for a new presidential mandate, as he confirmed the last Wednesday on TF1, the most watched TV channel in France. Yesterday, he delivrered his first speech in Annecy (south-east of France)

This declaration was not surprising as everybody expected it and was similar to the Mitterrand one in 1988. Nicolas Sarkozy now wants to appear as a candidate wishing to draw a new direction to France and the French people.

Candidate but still President of the French republic, Nicolas Sarkozy is drawing his strategy putting forward the idea of “France forte” (strong France), still resisting compared with countries as Greece, Spain or Portugal. “The strong France”, it is a way to tackle François Hollande and try to put a mitigated outcome aside.

The entrance in campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy was obviously commented by some political analysts who were quite disappointed. Indeed, if the intervention of the UMP candidate was correct and well prepared, the outgoing president was little convincing as Sylvie-Pierre Brossolette, the Point chief editor, wrote.

Sarkozy knows he has an outcome and he has to assume it. Moreover, he won’t be able to hide it. His outcome is weak and controversial with some emblematic events at the Fouquet’s, his holidays in Malta on the Vincent Bolloré yacht and the political-judiciary affairs. But faced with it, Nicolas Sarkozy wants to appear as a protecting president, a secure value compared to Hollande.

The problem is if Nicolas Sarkozy largely succeeded this strategy in 2007, there is no guarantee it works this year again. Indeed, French people have other priorities and aspirations and moreover, the Nicolas Sarkozy’s deficit of image is still important although he tried everything to smooth and put forward his action defending the image of a working president, active till the end of his term. But, Sarkozy is still perceived as a unstable person.

Nicolas Sarkozy finally appeared as an outgoing-candidate rather than an outgoing-president insofar as he is trying to get a new presidential mandate and putting his outcome aside in the same time. Sarkozy bets that face to the crisis, French people will prefer to keep him in spite of his personality and his attitude. The reasoning is quite curious and even risky insofar as the electors might regard the action of the outgoing executive in their final choice.

In spite of all, the official start of Nicolas Sarkozy in the campaign has at least something positive: clarifying the situation and the debate regarding the future of France and French people for the next five years.