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article imageOp-Ed: Is Nicolas Sarkozy planning his reelection strategy?

By Michael Cosgrove     Aug 13, 2010 in Politics
French President Nicolas Sarkozy may currently be taking a holiday on the sun-drenched French Riviera, but that has probably not stopped him working feverishly to prepare the political battles to come.
After a frenetic start to the summer in French politics and no prospect of respite to come, M Sarkozy is on vacation.
But the silence surrounding his holiday arrangements at Cap Nègre does not mean that M Sarkozy is spending all day beside the pool sipping cocktails. And it does not mean that news of his plans and activities is not leaking out either.
He met with Ecology and Energy minister Jean-Louis Borloo at the very beginning of the week and that set tongues wagging about the possibility of him being groomed to succeed Prime Minister François Fillon. Bets are open on the possibility of Fillon leaving Matignon in the near future in a scheduled government reshuffle. A presidential spokesman tried vainly to calm down the speculation by insisting unconvincingly that the meeting should not be “over-interpreted.”
The timing and nature of some of M Sarkozy’s recent announcements mean that he is in for a busy time of it when he gets back to Paris, and he is surely aware of the fallout from his high-profile speech on law and order. He will however take comfort from the fact that his proposition to strip certain categories of violent criminals of their French nationality and the dismantling of Gypsy and Roma camps were approved by a large majority of French citizens in a poll carried out for le Figaro by survey specialists IFOP.
Other subjects that will be hotly-debated after summer include wider law and order issues, less public assistance and his opposition to any form of tax hikes.
His choice of subjects and the policies he would like to see adopted can only mean one thing according to an increasing number of observers, and that is that M Sarkozy has already begun his 2012 campaign for reelection. No tax hikes, increased law and order initiatives and others are all potential vote winners, and now he is said to be considering yet another controversial proposal.
It is being suggested by a Deputy with good connections to the presidential palace that M Sarkozy is thinking about abolishing the ‘cumul des mandats’ – the political practice used relatively widely in France which consists of simultaneously holding a number of political positions at various levels of national government and local administration levels.
Any announcement which indicated his intention to try and put an end to this practice would constitute a political bombshell which would face fierce opposition not only from opposition parties but from some of his supporters too.
But the public would be very much in favor of eliminating or at least reducing the cumul des mandats, which is seen at worst as a system which pays politicians multiple salaries whilst at the same time reducing the time they have available to attend to each individual mandate.
Not only that, but going ahead with this idea would take away any initiative that the Socialist Party may have been preparing for what would be a very popular measure, even though they, like some on the right, would prefer not to tinker too much with the system.
The result of all this is that the Left does not seem to be able to get the upper hand on a number of issues, and the President may well be tempted to follow the advice of one of his more prominent advisors, Patrick Buisson, who has always favored a more regalalien approach to the presidency as well as more efforts to attract the lower classes of French society.
The end of the parliamentary and presidential recess after the holidays promises to be extremely volatile and interesting. After all, 2012 is less than two years away and counting…..
(This article appears on Le Figaro in English, from which the French version is available.)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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