Nicolas Sarkozy is a French politician who served as the 23rd President of the French Republic from 16 May 2007 until 15 May 2012.
Before his presidency, he was leader of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Under Jacques Chirac's presidency he served as Minister of the Interior in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's (UMP) first two governments (from May 2002 to March 2004), then was appointed Minister of Finances in Raffarin's last government (March 2004 to May 2005) and again Minister of the Interior in Dominique de Villepin's government (2005–2007).
Sarkozy was also president of the General council of the Hauts-de-Seine department from 2004 to 2007 and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communes of France from 1983 to 2002. He was Minister of the Budget in the government of Édouard Balladur (RPR, predecessor of the UMP) during François Mitterrand's last term.
In foreign affairs, he promised a strengthening of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer cooperation with the United States. During his term, he faced the late-2000s financial crisis (followed by the recession and the debt crisis caused by it) and the Arab Spring (especially in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria). He also married Italian-French singer-songwriter Carla Bruni on 2 February 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris.
On 6 May 2012, Sarkozy was defeated in the 2012 election by Socialist François Hollande by a margin of 3.2 percent, or 1,139,983 votes. After leaving the office, Sarkozy retired from political life. As a former president, Sarkozy is entitled to de jure membership in the Constitutional Council.
Sarkozy is the son of Pál István Ernő Sárközy de Nagy-Bócsa (Hungarian: nagybócsai Sárközy Pál [nɒɟ͡ʝboːt͡ʃɒi ʃaːrkøzi paːl] ( listen); in some sources Nagy-Bócsay Sárközy Pál István Ernő), a Hungarian aristocrat, and Andrée Jeanne "Dadu" Mallah (b. Paris, 12 October 1925), whose Greek Jewish father converted to Catholicism to marry her French Catholic mother. They were married in the Saint-François-de-Sales church, 17th arrondissement of Paris, on 8 February 1950 and divorced in 1959.
During Sarkozy's childhood, his father founded his own advertising agency and became wealthy. The family lived in a mansion owned by Sarkozy's maternal grandfather, Benedict Mallah, in the 17th Arrondissement of Paris. The family later moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communes of the Île-de-France région immediately west of the 17th Arrondissement just outside of Paris. According to Sarkozy, his staunchly Gaullist grandfather was more of an influence on him than his father, whom he rarely saw. Sarkozy was, accordingly, raised Catholic.
Sarkozy said that being abandoned by his father shaped much of who he is today. He also has said that, in his early years, he felt inferior in relation to his wealthier and taller classmates. "What made me who I am now is the sum of all the humiliations suffered during childhood", he said later.
Sarkozy was enrolled in the Lycée Chaptal, a well regarded public middle and high school in Paris's 8th arrondissement, where he failed his sixième. His family then sent him to the Cours Saint-Louis de Monceau, a private Catholic school in the 17th arrondissement, where he was reportedly a mediocre student, but where he nonetheless obtained his baccalauréat in 1973. He enrolled at the Université Paris X Nanterre, where he graduated with an MA in Private law, and later with a DEA degree in Business law. Paris X Nanterre had been the starting place for the May '68 student movement and was still a stronghold of leftist students. Described as a quiet student, Sarkozy soon joined the right-wing student organization, in which he was very active. He completed his military service as a part time Air Force cleaner. After graduating, he entered the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, better known as Sciences Po, (1979–1981) but failed to graduate due to an insufficient command of the English language. After passing the bar, he became a lawyer specializing in business and family law, and was one of Silvio Berlusconi's top French advocates.
Sarkozy married his first wife, Marie-Dominique Culioli, on 23 September 1982; her father was a pharmacist from Vico (a village north of Ajaccio, Corsica), her uncle was Achille Peretti, the mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine from 1947-1983 and Sarkozy's political mentor. They had two sons, Pierre (born in 1985), now a hip-hop producer, and Jean (born in 1986) now a local politician in the city of Neuilly-sur-Seine where Sarkozy started his own political career. Sarkozy's best man was the prominent right-wing politician Charles Pasqua, later to become a political opponent. Sarkozy divorced Culioli in 1996, after they had been separated for several years.
As mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Sarkozy met former fashion model and public relations executive Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz (great-granddaughter of composer Isaac Albéniz and daughter of a Moldovan father), when he officiated at her wedding to television host Jacques Martin. In 1988, she left her husband for Sarkozy, and divorced Martin one year later. Sarkozy married her in October 1996, with witnesses Martin Bouygues and Bernard Arnault. They have one son, Louis, born 23 April 1997.
Between 2002 and 2005, the couple often appeared together on public occasions, with Cécilia Sarkozy acting as the chief aide for her husband. On 25 May 2005, however, the Swiss newspaper Le Matin revealed that she had left Sarkozy for French-Moroccan national Richard Attias, head of Publicis in New York. There were other accusations of a private nature in Le Matin, which led to Sarkozy suing the paper. In the meantime, he was said to have had an affair with a journalist of Le Figaro, Anne Fulda.
Sarkozy and Cécilia ultimately divorced on 15 October 2007, soon after his election as President.
President Barack Obama is greeted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni at the G8 Summit dinner in Deauville, France, 26 May 2011.
Less than a month after separating from Cécilia, Sarkozy met Italian-born singer Carla Bruni at a dinner party, and soon entered a relationship with her. They married on 2 February 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris.
The couple has a daughter, Giulia, born on 19 October 2011. It is the first time a French president has had a child while in office.
Sarkozy declared to the Constitutional Council a net worth of €2 million, most of the assets being in the form of life insurance policies. As the French President, one of his first actions was to give himself a pay raise: his yearly salary went from €101,000 to €240,000 (to match his European/French peers). He is also entitled to a mayoral pension as a former mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Member of National Assembly
Sarkozy is recognised by both the right and left's French parties as a skilled politician and striking orator. His supporters within France emphasize his charisma, political innovation and willingness to "make a dramatic break" amid mounting disaffection against "politics as usual". Overall, he is considered more pro-United States and pro-Israeli than most French politicians.
Since November 2004, Sarkozy has been president of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), France's major right-wing political party, and he was Minister of the Interior in the government of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, with the honorific title of Minister of State, making him effectively the number three official in the French State after President Jacques Chirac and Villepin. His ministerial responsibilities included law enforcement and working to co-ordinate relationships between the national and local governments, as well as Minister of Worship (in this role he created the CFCM, French Council of Muslim Faith). Previously, he was a deputy to the French National Assembly. He was forced to resign this position in order to accept his ministerial appointment. He previously also held several ministerial posts, including Finance Minister.
Sarkozy's political career began when he was 23, when he became a city councillor in Neuilly-sur-Seine. A member of the Neo-Gaullist party RPR, he went on to be elected mayor of that town, after the death of the incumbent mayor Achille Peretti. Sarkozy had been close to Peretti, as his mother was Peretti's secretary. The senior RPR politician at the time, Charles Pasqua, wanted to become mayor, and asked Sarkozy to organize his campaign. Instead Sarkozy profited from Pasqua's short illness to propel himself into the office of mayor. He was the youngest mayor of any town in France with a population of over 50,000. He served from 1983 to 2002. In 1988, he became a deputy in the National Assembly.
In 1993, Sarkozy was in the national news for personally negotiating with the "Human Bomb", a man who had taken small children hostage in a kindergarten in Neuilly. The "Human Bomb" was killed after two days of talks by policemen of the RAID, who entered the school stealthily while the attacker was resting.
At the same time, from 1993 to 1995, he was Minister for the Budget and spokesman for the executive in the cabinet of Prime Minister Édouard Balladur. Throughout most of his early career, Sarkozy had been seen as a protégé of Jacques Chirac. During his tenure, he increased France's public debt more than any other French Budget Minister, by the equivalent of €200 billion (USD260 billion) (FY 1994–1996). The first two budgets he submitted to the parliament (budgets for FY1994 and FY1995) assumed a yearly budget deficit equivalent to six percent of GDP. According to the Maastricht Treaty, the French yearly budget deficit may not exceed three percent of France's GDP.
In 1995, he spurned Chirac and backed Édouard Balladur for President of France. After Chirac won the election, Sarkozy lost his position as Minister for the Budget, and found himself outside the circles of power.
However, he returned after the right-wing defeat at the 1997 parliamentary election, as the number two candidate of the RPR. When the party leader Philippe Séguin resigned, in 1999, he took the leadership of the Neo-Gaullist party. But it obtained its worst result at the 1999 European Parliament election, winning 12.7% of the votes, less than the dissident Rally for France of Charles Pasqua. Sarkozy lost the RPR leadership.
Nicolas Sarkozy speaking at the congress of his party, 28 November 2004
In 2002, however, after his re-election as President of the French Republic (see French presidential election, 2002), Chirac appointed Sarkozy as French Minister of the Interior in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, despite Sarkozy's support of Edouard Balladur for French President in 1995. Following Chirac's 14 July keynote speech on road safety, Sarkozy as interior minister pushed through new legislation leading to the mass purchase of speed cameras and a campaign to increase the awareness of dangers on the roads.
In the cabinet reshuffle of 30 April 2004, Sarkozy became Finance Minister. Tensions continued to build between Sarkozy and Chirac and within the UMP party, as Sarkozy's intentions of becoming head of the party after the resignation of Alain Juppé became clear.
In party elections of 10 November 2004, Sarkozy became leader of the UMP with 85% of the vote. In accordance with an agreement with Chirac, he resigned as Finance Minister. Sarkozy's ascent was marked by the division of UMP between sarkozystes, such as Sarkozy's "first lieutenant", Brice Hortefeux, and Chirac loyalists, such as Jean-Louis Debré.
Sarkozy was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by President Chirac in February 2005. He was re-elected on 13 March 2005 to the National Assembly (as required by the constitution, he had to resign as a deputy when he became minister in 2002).
On 31 May 2005 the main French news radio station France Info reported a rumour that Sarkozy was to be reappointed Minister of the Interior in the government of Dominique de Villepin without resigning from the UMP leadership. This was confirmed on 2 June 2005, when the members of the government were officially announced.
First term as Minister of the Interior
Towards the end of his first term as Minister of the Interior, in 2004, Sarkozy was the most divisive conservative politician in France, according to polls conducted at the beginning of 2004.
Sarkozy has sought to ease the sometimes tense relationships between the general French population and the Muslim community. Unlike the Catholic Church in France with their official leaders or Protestants with their umbrella organisations, the French Muslim community had a lack of structure with no group that could legitimately deal with the French government on their behalf. Sarkozy supported the foundation in May 2003 of the private non-profit Conseil français du culte musulman ("French Council of the Muslim Faith"), an organisation meant to be representative of French Muslims. In addition, Sarkozy has suggested amending the 1905 law on the separation of Church and State, mostly in order to be able to finance mosques and other Muslim institutions with public funds so that they are less reliant on money from outside of France. It was not followed by any concrete measure.
Minister of Finance
During his short appointment as Minister of Finance, Sarkozy was responsible for introducing a number of policies. The degree to which this reflected libéralisme (a hands-off approach to running the economy) or more traditional French state dirigisme (intervention) is controversial. He resigned the day following his election as president of the UMP.
In September 2004, Sarkozy oversaw the reduction of the government ownership stake in France Télécom from 50.4 percent to 41 percent.
Sarkozy backed a partial nationalisation of the large engineering company Alstom decided by his predecessor when the company was exposed to bankruptcy in 2003.
In June 2004, Sarkozy reached an agreement with the major retail chains in France to concertedly lower prices on household goods by an average of two percent; the success of this measure is disputed, with studies suggesting that the decrease was close to one percent in September.
Taxes: Sarkozy avoided taking a position on the ISF (solidarity tax on wealth). This is considered an ideological symbol by many on the left and right. Some in the business world and on the liberal right, such as Alain Madelin, wanted it abolished. For Sarkozy, that would have risked being categorised by the left as a gift to the richest classes of society at a time of economic difficulties.
Second term as Minister of the Interior
Sarkozy as Minister of the Interior with then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, after their bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C., 12 September 2006
During his second term at the Ministry of the Interior, Sarkozy was initially more discreet about his ministerial activities: instead of focusing on his own topic of law and order, many of his declarations addressed wider issues, since he was expressing his opinions as head of the UMP party.
Main article: Response to the 2005 civil unrest in France
However, the civil unrest in autumn 2005 put law enforcement in the spotlight again. Sarkozy was accused of having provoked the unrest by calling young delinquents from housing projects "rabble" ("racaille") in Argenteuil near Paris, and controversially suggested cleansing the minority suburbs with a Kärcher. After the accidental death of two youths, which sparked the riots, Sarkozy first blamed it on "hoodlums" and gangsters. These remarks were sharply criticised by many on the left wing and by a member of his own government, Delegate Minister for Equal Opportunities Azouz Begag.
After the rioting, he made a number of announcements on future policy: selection of immigrants, greater tracking of immigrants, and a reform on the 1945 ordinance government justice measures for young delinquents.
Before he was elected President of France, Sarkozy was president of UMP, the French conservative party, elected with 85 percent of the vote. During his presidency, the number of members has significantly increased. In 2005, he supported a "yes" vote in the French referendum on the European Constitution, but the "No" vote won.
Throughout 2005, Sarkozy called for radical changes in France's economic and social policies. These calls culminated in an interview with Le Monde on 8 September 2005, during which he claimed that the French had been misled for 30 years by false promises. Among other issues:
he called for a simplified and "fairer" taxation system, with fewer loopholes and a maximum taxation rate (all direct taxes combined) at 50 percent of revenue;
he approved measures reducing or denying social support to unemployed workers who refuse work offered to them;
he pressed for a reduction in the budget deficit, claiming that the French state has been living off credit for some time.
Such policies are what are called in France libéral (that is, in favour of laissez-faire economic policies) or, with a pejorative undertone, ultra-libéral. Sarkozy rejects this label of libéral and prefers to call himself a pragmatist.
Sarkozy opened another avenue of controversy by declaring that he wanted a reform of the immigration system, with quotas designed to admit the skilled workers needed by the French economy. He also wants to reform the current French system for foreign students, saying that it enables foreign students to take open-ended curricula in order to obtain residency in France; instead, he wants to select the best students to the best curricula in France.
In early 2006, the French parliament adopted a controversial bill known as DADVSI, which reforms French copyright law. Since his party was divided on the issue, Sarkozy stepped in and organised meetings between various parties involved. Later, groups such as the Odebi League and EUCD.info alleged that Sarkozy personally and unofficially supported certain amendments to the law, which enacted strong penalties against designers of peer-to-peer systems.
2007 presidential campaign
Main article: French presidential election, 2007
Ségolène Royal was Sarkozy's final opponent during the second (last) round of the 2007 presidential election.
Sarkozy was a likely candidate for the presidency in 2007; in an oft-repeated comment made on television channel France 2, when asked by a journalist whether he thought about the presidential election when he shaved in the morning, Sarkozy commented, "Not just when I shave".
On 14 January 2007, Sarkozy was chosen by the UMP to be its candidate in the 2007 presidential election. Sarkozy, who was running unopposed, won 98 percent of the votes. Of the 327,000 UMP members who could vote, 69 percent participated in the online ballot.
In February 2007, Sarkozy appeared on a televised debate on TF1 where he expressed his support for affirmative action and the freedom to work overtime. Despite his opposition to same-sex marriage, he advocated civil unions and the possibility for same-sex partners to inherit under the same regime as married couples. The law was voted in July 2007.
Meeting in Toulouse for the 2007 French Presidential election.
On 7 February, Sarkozy decided in favour of a projected second, non-nuclear, aircraft carrier for the national Navy (adding to the nuclear Charles de Gaulle), during an official visit in Toulon with Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie. "This would allow permanently having an operational ship, taking into account the constraints of maintenance", he explained.
Demonstrations and riots, Paris, May 6, 2007, following the election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency of the French republic.
On 21 March, President Jacques Chirac announced his support for Sarkozy. Chirac pointed out that Sarkozy had been chosen as presidential candidate for the ruling UMP party, and said: "So it is totally natural that I give him my vote and my support." To focus on his campaign, Sarkozy stepped down as interior minister on 26 March.
During the campaign, rival candidates had accused Sarkozy of being a "candidate for brutality" and of presenting hard-line views about France's future. Opponents also accused him of courting conservative voters in policy-making in a bid to capitalise on right-wing sentiments among some communities. However, his popularity was sufficient to see him polling as the frontrunner throughout the later campaign period, consistently ahead of rival Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal.
The first round of the presidential election was held on 22 April 2007. Sarkozy came in first with 31.18 percent of the votes, ahead of Ségolène Royal of the Socialists with 25.87 percent. In the second round, Sarkozy came out on top to win the election with 53.06 percent of the votes ahead of Ségolène Royal with 46.94 percent. In his speech immediately following the announcement of the election results, Sarkozy stressed the need for France's modernisation, but also called for national unity, mentioning that Royal was in his thoughts. In that speech, he claimed "The French have chosen to break with the ideas, habits and behaviour of the past. I will restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation."
2012 presidential campaign
Main article: French presidential election, 2012
Sarkozy was one of ten candidates who qualified for the first round of voting. François Hollande, the Socialist Party candidate, received the most votes in the first round held on 22 April election, with Sarkozy coming second, meaning that both progressed to the second round of voting on 5–6 May 2012. Sarkozy lost in the runoff and conceded to Hollande. He received an estimated 48.38% compared to Hollande's 51.62%.
President of the French Republic: 2007-2012.
Co-Prince of Andorra: 2007-2012.
Minister of Budget and government's spokesman : 1993–1995.
Minister of Communication and government's spokesman : 1994–1995.
Minister of State, minister of Interior, of the Internal Security and Local Freedoms : 2002–2004.
Minister of State, minister of Economy, Finance and Industry : March–November 2004 (resignation).
Minister of State, minister of Interior and Planning : 2005–2007 (resignation).
Member of the European Parliament : July–September 1999 (Resignation). Elected in 1999.
National Assembly of France
Member of the National Assembly of France for Hauts-de-Seine (6th constituency) : 1988–1993 (became minister in 1993) / 1995–2002 (became minister in 2002) / March–June 2005 (became minister in June 2005). Elected in 1988, reelected in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2005.
Regional councillor of Île-de-France : 1983–1988 (Resignation). Elected in 1986.
President of the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine : 2004–2007 (Resignation, became President of the French Republic in 2007).
Vice-president of the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine : 1986–1988 (Resignation).
General councillor of Hauts-de-Seine : 1985–1988 / 2004–2007 (Resignation, became President of the French Republic in 2007).
Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine : 1983–2002 (Resignation). Reelected in 1989, 1995, and 2001.
Deputy-mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine : 2002–2007 (Resignation).
Municipal councillor of Neuilly-sur-Seine : 1977–2007 (Resignation). Reelected in 1983, 1989, 1995, and 2001.
President of the Union for a Popular Movement : 2004–2007 (resignation, became President of the French Republic in 2007). Elected in 2004.
President of the Rally for the Republic : April–October 1999.
General secretary of the Rally for the Republic : 1998–1999.
Deputy general secretary of the Rally for the Republic : 1992–1993.
Main article: Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy
On 6 May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy became the sixth person to be elected President of the Fifth Republic (which was established in 1958), and the 23rd president in French history. He is the first French president to have been born after World War II. Indeed, his predecessor Jacques Chirac, the president born most recently apart from Sarkozy himself, was born in 1932.
The official transfer of power from Chirac to Sarkozy took place on 16 May at 11:00 am (9:00 UTC) at the Élysée Palace, where he was given the authorization codes of the French nuclear arsenal. In the afternoon, the new President flew to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Sarkozy greets US first lady Laura Bush in Germany, June 2007
Nicolas Sarkozy and General Jean-Louis Georgelin, Chief of the Defence Staff, reviewing troops during the Bastille Day 2008 military parade on the Champs-Élysées, Paris
Under Sarkozy's government, François Fillon replaced Dominique de Villepin as Prime Minister. Sarkozy appointed Bernard Kouchner, the left-wing founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, as his foreign minister, leading to Kouchner's expulsion from the Socialist Party. In addition to Kouchner, three more Sarkozy ministers are from the left, including Eric Besson, who served as Ségolène Royal's economic adviser at the beginning of her campaign. Sarkozy also appointed seven women to form a total cabinet of 15; one, Justice Minister Rachida Dati, is the first woman of Northern African origin to serve in a French cabinet. Of the 15, two attended the elite École nationale d'administration (ENA). The ministers were reorganised, with the controversial creation of a 'Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development'—given to his right-hand man Brice Hortefeux—and of a 'Ministry of Budget, Public Accounts and Civil Administration'—handed out to Éric Wœrth, supposed to prepare the replacement of only a third of all civil servants who retire. However, after the 17 June parliamentary elections, the Cabinet has been adjusted to 15 ministers and 16 deputy ministers, totalling 31 officials.
Shortly after taking office, Sarkozy began negotiations with Colombian president Álvaro Uribe and the left-wing guerrilla FARC, regarding the release of hostages held by the rebel group, especially Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. According to some sources, Sarkozy himself asked for Uribe to release FARC's "chancellor" Rodrigo Granda. Furthermore, he announced on 24 July 2007, that French and European representatives had obtained the extradition of the Bulgarian nurses detained in Libya to their country. In exchange, he signed with Muammar Gaddafi security, health care and immigration pacts—and a $230 million (168 million euros) MILAN antitank missile sale. The contract was the first made by Libya since 2004, and was negotiated with MBDA, a subsidiary of EADS. Another 128 millions euros contract would have been signed, according to Tripoli, with EADS for a TETRA radio system. The Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party (PCF) criticised a "state affair" and a "barter" with a "Rogue state". The leader of the PS, François Hollande, requested the opening of a parliamentary investigation.
On 8 June 2007, during the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Sarkozy set a goal of reducing French CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2050 in order to prevent global warming. He then pushed forward Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn as European nominee to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Critics alleged that Sarkozy proposed to nominate Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF to deprive the Socialist Party of one of its more popular figures.
In 2010, a study of Yale and Columbia universities ranked France the most respectful country of the G20 concerning the environment.
The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), Sarkozy's party, won a majority at the June 2007 legislative election, although by less than expected. In July, the UMP majority, seconded by the Nouveau Centre, ratified one of Sarkozy's electoral promises, which was to partially revoke the inheritance tax. The inheritance tax formerly brought eight billion euros into state coffers.
Sarkozy (at left) attending the G-8 Summit in 2009
Sarkozy's UMP majority prepared a budget that reduced taxes, in particular for upper middle-class people, allegedly in an effort to boost GDP growth, but did not reduce state expenditures. He was criticised by the European Commission for doing so.
Sarkozy broke with the custom of amnestying traffic tickets and of releasing thousands of prisoners from overcrowded jails on Bastille Day, a tradition that Napoleon had started in 1802 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.
Sarkozy's government issued a decree on 7 August 2007 to generalise a voluntary biometric profiling program of travellers in airports. The program, called 'Parafes', was to use fingerprints. The new database would be interconnected with the Schengen Information System (SIS) as well as with a national database of wanted persons (FPR). The Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) protested against this new decree, opposing itself to the recording of fingerprints and to the interconnection between the SIS and the FPR.
On 21 July 2008, the French parliament passed constitutional reforms which Sarkozy had made one of the key pledges of his presidential campaign. The vote was 539 to 357, one vote over the three-fifths majority required; the changes are not yet finalized. They would introduce a two-term limit for the presidency, and end the president's right of collective pardon. They would allow the president to address parliament in-session, and parliament, to set its own agenda. They would give parliament a veto over some presidential appointments, while ending government control over parliament's committee system. He has claimed that these reforms strengthen parliament, while some opposition socialist lawmakers have described it as a "consolidation of a monocracy".
On 23 July 2008, parliament voted the "loi de modernisation de l'économie" (Modernization of the Economy Law) which loosened restrictions on retail prices and reduced limitations on the creation of businesses. The Government has also made changes to long-standing French work-hour regulations, allowing employers to negotiate overtime with employees and making all hours worked past the traditional French 35-hour week tax-free.
However, as a result of the global financial crisis that came to a head in September 2008, Sarkozy has returned to the state interventionism of his predecessors, declaring that "laissez-faire capitalism is over" and denouncing the "dictatorship of the market". Confronted with the suggestion that he had become a socialist, he responded: "Have I become socialist? Perhaps." He has also pledged to create 100,000 state-subsidised jobs. This reversion to dirigisme is seen as an attempt to stem the growing popularity of revolutionary socialist leader Olivier Besancenot.
President Nicolas Sarkozy with President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff
Nicolas Sarkozy with Cypriot opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades
Sarkozy wielded special international power when France held the rotating EU Council Presidency from July 2008 through December 2008. Sarkozy has publicly stated his intention to attain EU approval of a progressive energy package before the end of his EU Presidency. This energy package would clearly define climate change objectives for the EU and hold members to specific reductions in emissions. In further support of his collaborative outlook on climate change, Sarkozy has led the EU into a partnership with China. On 6 December 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy, as part of France's then presidency of the Council of the EU, met the Dalai Lama in Poland and outraged China, which has announced that it would postpone the China-EU summit indefinitely. On 3 April 2009, at the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, Sarkozy announced that France would offer asylum to a former Guantanamo captive. "We are on the path to failure if we continue to act as we have", French President Nicolas Sarkozy cautioned at the U.N. Climate Summit on 22 September 2009.
On 27 February 2011, Sarkozy did for the 10th time of his presidency a government reshuffle.
On 29 June 2011, he did an 11th government reshuffle, after the resignation of Christine Lagarde, who was appointed to head the International Monetary Fund. Five new ministers were appointed.
On 5 January 2009, Sarkozy called for a ceasefire plan for the Gaza Strip Conflict. The plan, which was jointly proposed by Sarkozy and Egyptian ex-President Hosni Mubarak envisions the continuation of the delivery of aid to Gaza and talks with Israel on border security, a key issue for Israel as it says Hamas smuggles its rockets into Gaza through the Egyptian border. Welcoming the proposal, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a "ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security".
Involvement in Libya
Nicolas Sarkozy address the E-G8 Forum in Paris in 2011
In March 2011, after having been criticized for his unwillingness to support the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, and persuaded by the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy to have France actively engage against the forces of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, Nicolas Sarkozy was amongst the first Heads of State to demand the resignation of Gaddafi and his government, which was then fighting a civil war in Libya. On 10 March 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed to the Elysee Palace, three emissaries from the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), brought to him by Bernard-Henri Levy who mediated at the meeting. Nicolas Sarkozy promised them a no-fly zone would be imposed on Gaddafi's aeroplanes. He also promised them France's military assistance. On 17 March 2011, at the behest of France, resolution 1973 was adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations, permitting the creation of a "no fly" zone over Libya, and for the undertaking of "necessary measures" for the protection of the country's civilian population. On 19 March 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy officially announced the beginning of a military intervention in Libya, with France's participation. These actions of Nicolas Sarkozy were favorably received by the majority of the French political class and public opinion.
Sarkozy was named the 68th best-dressed person in the world by Vanity Fair, alongside David Beckham and Brad Pitt. However, Sarkozy has also been named as the third worst-dressed person in the world by GQ, a listing that has been disputed. Beside publicizing, at times, and at others, refusing to publicise his ex-wife Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz's image, Sarkozy takes care of his own personal image, sometimes to the point of censorship—such as in the Paris Match affair, when he allegedly forced its director to resign following an article on his ex-wife and her affair with Publicis executive Richard Attias, or pressures exercised on the Journal du dimanche, which was preparing to publish an article concerning Ciganer-Albéniz's decision not to vote in the second round of the 2007 presidential election. In its 9 August 2007 edition, Paris Match retouched a photo of Sarkozy in order to erase a love handle. His official portrait destined for all French town halls was done by SIPA photographer Philippe Warrin, better known for his paparazzi work.
Former Daily Telegraph journalist Colin Randall has highlighted Sarkozy's tighter control of his image and frequent interventions in the media: "he censors a book, or fires the chief editor of a weekly." Sarkozy is reported by Reuters to be sensitive about his height (believed to be 165 cm (5 ft 5 in)). The French media have pointed out that Carla Bruni frequently wears flats when in public with him. In 2009, this was the subject of a political row, when a worker at a factory where Sarkozy gave a speech said she was asked to stand next to him because she was of a similar height (this story was corroborated by some trade union officials). The president's office called the accusation "completely absurd and grotesque", while the Socialist Party mocked his fastidious preparation.
Sarkozy lost a suit against a manufacturer of Sarkozy voodoo dolls, in which he claimed that he had a right to his own image.
The biopic La Conquête is a 2011 film that dramatizes Sarkozy's rise to power, with candid portrayals of Sarkozy himself, Chirac and Villepin, and that was shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. Please integrate the section's contents into the article as a whole, or rewrite the material. (May 2011)
Generally, Sarkozy is strongly disliked by the Left, and is also criticised by some on the Right, most vocally by supporters of Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, such as Jean-Louis Debré.
The magazine Marianne accused Sarkozy of changing opinion in an Airbus affair. The communist-leaning magazine L'Humanité accused Sarkozy of being a populist.
Many on the Left have a particular distrust for Nicolas Sarkozy; specific "anti-Sarko" movements have been started
In 2004 Sarkozy co-authored a book, La République, les religions, l'espérance (The Republic, Religions, and Hope), in which he argued that the young should not be brought up solely on secular or republican values. He advocated reducing the separation of church and state, arguing for the government subsidy of mosques in order to encourage Islamic integration into French society. He opposes financing of religious institutions with funds from outside France. After meeting with Tom Cruise, Sarkozy was criticised by some for meeting with a member of the Church of Scientology, which is seen as a cult in France (see Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France). Sarkozy stated that "the roots of France are essentially Christian" at December 2007 speech in Rome. He called Islam "one of the greatest and most beautiful civilizations the world has known" at a speech in Riyadh in January 2008. Both comments drew criticism from Christians.
In the midst of a tense period and following the accidental death of an 11-year-old boy in the Paris suburb of La Courneuve in June 2005, Sarkozy quoted a local resident and vowed to clean the area out "with a Kärcher" (nettoyer la cité au Kärcher, referring to a well-known German brand of pressure-cleaning equipment), and two days before the 2005 Paris riots he referred to the criminal youth of the housing projects as voyous (thugs) and racaille, a slang term which can be translated into English as rabble, scum or riff-raff; the French Communist Party's publication L'Humanité branded this language as inappropriate. Following Sarkozy's use of the word racaille many people in the banlieus identified him as a politician of the far right. His period as Interior Minister had seen the use of police as shock troops in the banlieus and a police "raid" on the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in October 2005 had led to two boys being electrocuted in a power sub-station. The riots began that night.
In September 2005 Sarkozy was accused of pushing for a hasty inquiry into an arson attack on a police station in Pau, of which the alleged perpetrators were acquitted for lack of proof. On 22 June 2005 Sarkozy told law enforcement officials that he had questioned the Minister of Justice about the future of "the judge" who had freed a man on parole who had later committed a murder.
Sarkozy opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. However, he was critical of the way Jacques Chirac and his foreign minister Dominique de Villepin expressed France's opposition to the war. Talking at the French-American Foundation in Washington, D.C. on 12 September 2006, he denounced what he called the "French arrogance" and said: "It is bad manners to embarrass one's allies or sound like one is taking delight in their troubles." He added: "We must never again turn our disagreements into a crisis." Jacques Chirac reportedly said in private that Sarkozy's speech was "appalling" and "a shameful act".
Even though his former foreign minister Bernard Kouchner (excluded from the Socialist party after his inclusion in François Fillon's government) had been one of the few supporters in France of removal of Saddam Hussein from power, Sarkozy's stance on the war has not changed.
A few weeks before the first round of the 2007 presidential elections, Sarkozy said during an interview with philosopher Michel Onfray that he thinks disorders such as paedophilia and depression have a genetic as well as social basis, saying "I don't agree with you, I'd be inclined to think that one is born a paedophile, and it is actually a problem that we do not know how to cure this disease"; he also claimed that suicides among youth were linked to genetic predispositions by stating, "I don't want to give parents a complex. It's not exclusively the parents' fault every time a youngster commits suicide." These statements were criticised by some scientists, including controversial geneticist Axel Kahn. Sarkozy later said, "What part is innate and what part is acquired? At least let's debate it, let's not close the door to all debate."
On 27 July 2007, Sarkozy delivered a speech in Senegal, written by Henri Guaino, in which he made reference to "African peasants". The controversial remarks were widely condemned by Africans, who viewed them as racist. South African president Thabo Mbeki praised Sarkozy's speech, which raised criticism by some in the South African media.
On 23 February 2008, Sarkozy was filmed by a reporter for French newspaper Le Parisien having the following exchange while visiting the Paris International Agricultural Show:
While quickly crossing the hall Saturday morning, in the middle of the crowd, Sarkozy encounters a recalcitrant visitor who refuses to shake his hand. "Ah no, don't touch me!", said the man. The president retorted immediately: "Get lost, then." "You're making me dirty", yelled the man. With a frozen smile, Sarkozy says, his teeth glistening, a refined "Get lost, then, poor dumb-ass, go."
This exchange has been cause for much humour and debate regarding its propriety in the French press. It should also be noted that a precise translation into English has many possible variations.
On 28 August 2008, Hervé Eon, from Laval came to an anti-Sarkozy demonstration with a sign bearing the words Casse-toi pov' con, the exact words Sarkozy had uttered. Eon was arrested for causing offence to the presidential function and the prosecutor, who in France indirectly reports to the president, requested a fine of 1000€. The court eventually imposed a symbolic 30€ suspended fine, which has generally been interpreted as a defeat for the prosecution side. This incident was widely reported on, in particular as Sarkozy, as president of the Republic, is immune from prosecution, notably restricting Eon's rights to sue Sarkozy for defamation.
On 8 November 2009, Sarkozy posted on his Facebook page a picture supposedly showing him chipping away at the Berlin Wall during its fall. However, the dates were inconsistent and the picture was proven to be fake – and later archived footage confirmed this. This news of forgery spread in France, and later evolved into a meme, "Sarkozy Was There", where Sarkozy is photoshopped into historical events.
On 5 July 2010, following its investigations on the Bettencourt affair, online newspaper Mediapart ran an article in which Claire Thibout, an ex-accountant working for Liliane Bettencourt, accused Nicolas Sarkozy and Eric Woerth of receiving illegal campaign donations in 2007, in cash.
On 30 July 2010, Sarkozy suggested a new policy of security, and he proposed "stripping foreign-born French citizens who opted to acquire their nationality at their majority of their citizenship if they are convicted of threatening the life of a police officer or other serious crimes". This policy has been criticized for example by the US newspaper The New York Times, by Sarkozy's political opponents, including the leader of the PS, Martine Aubry, and by experts of French law, including the ex-member of the Constitutional Council of France, Robert Badinter, who said that such action would be unconstitutional.
Sarkozy was accused of nepotism for helping his son, Jean Sarkozy, try to become head of the public body running France's biggest business district EPAD.