French politics

The people’s candidate?

Nicolas Sarkozy delivering a speech during his rally in Marseille

Nicolas Sarkozy, the people’s candidate? This is the message the outgoing candidate wanted to deliver to the Frenchs, yesterday afternoon during his rally at Marseille (South of France)

The French president of Republic, running for a new five-year-mandate, defended, in front of 15,000 people, his outcome and tackled the Left and François Hollande, the PS candidate, accused of lying vis-à-vis the French people. To this occasion, the UMP candidate introduced himself as the people’s candidate against the elite represented by the other candidates, François Hollande first. He also reaffirmed his will to use the referendum process and to introduce a dose of proportional representation for the legislative elections although he pledges for a reduction of the number of representatives within the Parliament.

The reactions came quite fast, on the PS and the Front national sides mainly. For Martine Aubry, the PS First secretary, Nicolas Sarkozy is the president responsible for the degradation of the country while Marine Le Pen, the FN leader and candidate, made fun of a man she considers as a full-fledged member of the “establishment” she wants to tackle.

The Nicolas Sarkozy’s positioning is quite risky, not to say provocative. Indeed, a large number of French citizens are still considering Sarkozy as the president for the rich people, the man who spent his first night of president at the Fouquet’s and his holidays in the Vincent Bolloré’s yacht off Malta. This attitude deeply shocked the ones who backed and believed a man defending some values as labour, merit and effort.

In fact, Nicolas Sarkozy wants to reappear as a man questioning the social codes and the elite again, although he clearly comes from it. That explains his reference to the people which is a patriot call but also a clear illusion to the Marine Le Pen’s voters who is still a threat for the outgoing president even if she is losing some points in the opinion polls.

Sarkozy wants to be as coming from the people and near it to smooth his reputation. The strategy is very risky especially if the other challengers use the same, as Marine Le Pen for instance. What is more, the posture Nicolas Sarkozy is looking for getting may create a gap between his new personality and what he did for the country, the last five years, especially if we take into account the Frenchs’ point of view who are going to consider if the outgoing president is really the people’s candidate… or not.