French politics

The improbable come-back

Nicolas Sarkozy, ex-French president

To come back or not to come back?

Since several days, speculations are increasing regarding a probable come back of Nicolas Sarkozy, three months after he was defeated to the French presidential election by François Hollande, if we refer to the press and the behaviour of the ex-president. Indeed, some people hope an active come-back of the former French Head of state in politics, as the Right activists for instance in which 53% back such a hypothesis according to a survey made by the IFOP institute.

This opinion poll comes in the same time a large of part of the Frenchs are wondering on the policy led by the current government, much criticized these last weeks. Face to the strategy proposed by the Hollande-Ayrault duo and the rhythm of the reforms, some people in the opposition are starting to doubt and regret the former head of State. This is not surprising insofar as the Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat is still recent and he is still considered as the man of the situation for most of his supporters. What is more, his recent point of view on the Syria’s situation – and his implicit critic on the François Hollande’s international policy – was sufficient to remobilize and maintain the illusion of an improbable come-back.

Nicolas Sarkozy leaving the Elysée’s palace, the 15th of May

Nicolas Sarkozy is called on by UMP activists who wish he comes back in politics, because of the current battle of the leadership within the opposition party too. Fearing and anticipating the outcome, the ex-ruling party activists want to find the providential leader again, the one who will put an end to the argument and be the best guarantee of success for 2017. Nicolas Sarkozy is considered as having these qualities, being able to save the UMP of the crackdown.

This situation is similar to the one the French socialist party experienced ten years ago, when Lionel Jospin was defeated after the first round of the 2002 presidential election and announced the end of his political career. During months after, the ex-Prime minister and PS leader was evasive on a probable come-back. His political friends hoped such a come-back and maintained this illusion, but the Lionel Jospin’s return did not finally happened. Moreover, some other leaders as Dominique Strauss-Khan, Laurent Fabius or Ségolène Royal explicitly expressed their ambitions for the 2007 presidential race.

The UMP is experiencing the same situation ten years after and most of its current rulers want to get out while the going is good and do well for themselves. Jean-François Copé, François Fillon and even Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (the Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokesperson during the presidential campaign) patiently waited for their time and know it’s now or never to have a major political role. And although the political prestige and personality of Nicolas Sarkozy are acknowledged praised by them, it is unlikely the current UMP leaders are ready to put their political ambition aside in case of a come-back of the Elysée’s ex-tenant.

Even wanted by some UMP activists, a come-back of Nicolas Sarkozy remains an improbable hypothesis, highlighting rather some nostalgia of his supporters than a real wish. And if such a desire exists within the activists, the situation is much different within the UMP rulers, more or less embarrassed by the question excepted some faithful as Christian Estrosi and Brice Hortefeux, who recently  founded a political movement – L’Association des amis de Nicolas Sarkozy – aimed at defending and promoting the ex-president’s actions and values within the party.

Supporters of Nicolas Sarkozy paying tribute to him, during the transfer of powers with François Hollande, the 15th of May in Paris

Thus, the spectrum of a come-back of the ex-French president in politics is shaken by some nostalgic activists and a national press who miss the Nicolas Sarkozy’s bulldozer personality, in comparison with Mr. Ordinary, aka François Hollande. Even if it is quite unlikely Nicolas Sarkozy comes back in politics, it is needed the current ruling majority to take into account this opinion poll insofar as the current French president and his government have to give answers and ensure the ones who are still wondering on the in-progress and upcoming reforms and their impacts.