French politics

This is not a political come-back![1]

Nicolas Sarkozy, at the UMP headquaters in Paris, with Jean-François Copé, president of the party

Nicolas Sarkozy, at the UMP headquaters in Paris, with Jean-François Copé, president of the party

This is not a political come-back but it really looks like. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy attended to the extraordinary UMP board meeting, just after the rejection by the French constitutional Court of his presidential campaigns fees. Hundreds of activists came to welcome him at the national headquarters in Paris and celebrate this rock and roll come-back.

The former minister of Interior however said: it was not a political come-back (for the moment) and if he had to do this, he would talk to France and French people first. But, the presence of the ex-French head of State is still commented and analysed all the more so as this is a relevant act of political communication.

Nicolas Sarkozy comes back in politics as he is never gone actually. Since his defeat, on May 2012, the ex-leader of the French right never missed an occasion to express his point of view regarding the François Hollande’s foreign policy for instance while his faithful partners created the Association des Amis de Nicolas Sakozy, chaired by Brice Hortefeux and which defends the ex-president political term and legacy. To be clear, Sarkozy never quitted French politics, some people speaking and defending him and nobody is (really) surprised, as it was so visible and obvious he wanted to come back and was unable to be discreet.

Nonetheless, if Nicolas Sarkozy decided to come back, it is more due to the recent events than a real strategy. Officially, if the ex-leader is concerned by the UMP current financial situation and the rejection of his presidential campaign fees (that’s why he decided to come back), he has to cope with the more and more explicit ambitions of other leaders of his movements regarding the 2017 national elections, as François Fillon and Jean-François Copé who want to be freed from Sarkozy to show their difference better. The two leaders clearly made understand to Sarkozy they won’t give up and they will fight to defend their personality and their political project even if it is means clashing the ex-president.

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Forced by the events and the political ambitions of his two main rivals, Nicolas Sarkozy, who counted on the degradation of the UMP political situation to appear as the man of the situation, the one who is there when there is no solution, returns. The ex-president – as Charles de Gaulle – hoped (still hopes) to be this man, the one who gives his person to France and the French people once again. But, this is clearly not the good timing. In fact, Sarkozy waits for Fillon and Copé are totally discredited and he was cleaned by justice due to current cases as Karachi, or Bettencourt. What is more, such a political come-back does not mean he will be accepted and supported by Frenchs who are still opposed to him, in majority. Sarkozy clearly knows it that does not mean he is totally aware of, all the more so as some people as former Prime minister Edouard Balladur and Jean-Pierre Raffarin advised him to be discreet for a moment, fearing any premature come-back due to the still important distrust of the population towards him.

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If some conservative columnists and political analysts are delighted by Nicolas Sarkozy’s political come-back (Sarko is still bankable after all), it may be explained by constraint events rather than a nice led strategy. The ex-France’s leader wants to retake the initiative whatever the cost and bets on his intact popularity within the UMP activists, still without a leader, to impose himself face to Fillon and Copé. Nonetheless, the presence of Sarkozy shows, once again, the main conservative party is still unable to make a self critic and wonder on the real reasons of its defeat, the last year. Nobody is furthermore impressed by his come-back – especially in the current Left ruling majority – because Sarkozy never quitted politics. Nonetheless, his come-back might provoke more mess within the UMP party, the next months will give us a clear indication on this point.


[1]Inspired from theBelgian René Magritte’s famous painting: “This is not a pipe” (Ceci n’est pas une pipe)

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