French politics

The lead weight

Nicolas Sarkozy would like to come back in politics. That affirms, on the last Wednesday, “Le Canard Enchaîné” – a famous satiric newspaper – according to the Bruno Le Maire’s statements, former minister for Agriculture.

The former French president would have declared faced to the current France’s situation, it was a moral duty to come back. Bruno Le Maire neither confirmed nor denied the statements which are very commented in the political sphere, in the Right mainly.

Nicolas Sarkozy sows once again doubt and trouble about his political future. Face to the François Hollande’s policy and being scared for the future of France, the former head of State wants to appear as a resort and be in posture as the Général de Gaulle’s one, come back to power in 1958, just after the multiple crises of the IV° Republic. Sarkozy wants to appear as the providential man, the last resort and who is ready to serve France once again, if it is asked to him obviously.

Although the Sarkozy’s supporters seem to be delighted within the UMP, such a hypothesis sows trouble in the ex-ruling party insofar as the main executives and leaders seem more or less embarrassed. Thus, if Brice Hortefeux, former Sarkozy’s minister, was quite enthusiastic and Jean-François Copé, current UMP Secretary General and running for the leadership of the party, recently declared he was ready to give way to Sarkozy, other people keep a certain distance as François Fillon and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former Prime minister of Jacques Chirac considering, on the last Thursday on the RMC radio station, that a new generation should emerge within the UMP.

The UMP attitude towards the ex-French president is quite similar to the PS vis-à-vis Jospin, ten years ago. Knock out by the unexpected defeat of their leader at the French presidential race, the socialists didn’t really manage to turn over a new leaf, some people hoping his come-back in politics in spite of his withdrawal he announced the night of 21st of April, just after the results of the first round. The former Prime minister and PS leader even sowed doubt and was ambiguous on his real intentions, causing interferences within the French socialist Party during a while.

Jean-François Copé, current UMP Secretary General and François Fillon, former Prime minister, running for the UMP leadership

This is the same situation with a Nicolas Sarkozy who, as a lead weight, is weighing on a party being nostalgic of a glorious past with an uncontested leader for a lot of activists. The former president knows it and wants to use this popularity to extend a pressure on the evolution of his party for the next five years and in the perspective of the 2017 presidential race. This is a hazardous situation of the UMP insofar as the PS between 2002 and 2006, it is taking the risks to not do its “droit d’inventaire” (that means evaluating and questioning the Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency outcome) because looking at the past and not the future. The “Friends of Nicolas Sarkozy” Association, chaired by Brice Hortefeux, is the most obvious example, as the permanent reference to the former President by Jean-François Copé and François Fillon to get the support of the UMP activists still attached to Sarkozy.

Nonetheless, the Nicolas Sarkozy’s strategy is double-edged insofar as if the former French ruler wants to play a major within his party, it also shows the UMP is unable to turn over a new leaf and adopt a re-conquest attitude, as the PS some years ago. What is more, the former Elysée tenant does not enjoy the decreasing of François Hollande in the opinion polls as the one made by CSA shows and in which 55% of the Frenchs do not regret Nicolas Sarkozy and another one made by TNS-Sofres in which only 32% of the polled want him to play an active role in French politics.

To sum up, Nicolas Sarkozy is acting as a shadow, a lead weight on an UMP clearly having no leadership and political vision, as if the party founded in 2002 was unable to exist without Nicolas Sarkozy, which probably explains such an agitation around him. Nonetheless, there is another shadow on the former president and the UMP executives and the Nicolas Sarkozy’s supporters seem to forget: the affairs! (which might be problematic in the perspective of an improbable come-back)