Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sarkozy’s case heats up

I reported in November that former French president Nicholas Sarkozy would be questioned by a judge in Bordeaux over bribery allegations.

The charge is that Sarkozy - affectionately known as Mr Bling – accepted more than half a million pounds from Liliane Bettencourt to help fund his 2007 presidential campaign and promised Bettencourt tax breaks in return.

Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation by a judge on March 21 with preliminary charges of “abuse of frailty” but the case is yet to go to trial.  Sarkozy has vowed to clear his name and tweeted late last month that the charges were unfair and unfounded.  This investigation will no doubt put his political come back on hold.  He is widely expected to run again to become president in the 2017 presidential elections.  The UMP party is split in terms of leadership and Sarkozy is seen as someone who can unify the party again.

The investigation will try to determine whether Sarkozy made multiple visits to see Bettencourt during his 2007 campaign.  Sarkozy denies this however former members of Bettencourt’s staff say otherwise.

Francois Hollande is governing during tough times, facing rising unemployment and recession.  Hollande stated recently:

 "I have to succeed because the country cannot wait. The crisis continues, my duty is to get France out of the crisis"

The polls show his popularity has declined and the Front National will use every opportunity to boost their ratings.  In a recent by-election in Oise, Paris the Socialist candidate lost in the first round and in the second round Front National gained 49% compared with UMP’s 51%.

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