Nicholas Sarkozy is the twenty-third French President, and has been in office since 2007. Before that, he served in various centre-right finance portfolio roles within prior French governments and was noted for his advocacy of fiscal restraint and central government spending cuts on areas like unemployment insurance. Before his election, he was leader of the UPM, France's largest centre-right political party. Sarkozy has poor luck with relationships- currently married to model Carla Bruni, that is his third marriage. Despite the latter, however, he opposes same-sex marriage- although during his presidential election campaign back in 2007, he supported civil unions.
(At present, France has a limited and unsatisfactorily partial form of domestic partnership scheme called PaCS, which provide non-comprehensive relationship equality in some areas but not others. However, the French National Assembly voted on same-sex marriage in June 2011, although rejecting it (293-222). The Socialist Opposition has said that if it wins an overall National Assembly majority and the presidency, the issue will be revisited, however). Socialist and Green Party mayors have defiantly performed civil marriages and opinion polls show majority support, however.
Sarkozy has been widely criticised for his haphazard approach to foreign policy, Christian supremacist attitudes and attempted politicisation of immigration issues, in an attempt to offset the malignant influence of France's far right anti-immigrant National Front party. As with New Zealand's Key administration, though, Sarkozy has been more focused on taxation policy and reduction of government expenditure as well as supporting entrepreneurialism.
During the current election campaign, the Toulouse shooting tragedy has not caused a permanent poll rebound, with Sarkozy and National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen accused of exploiting populist law and order and anti-immigrant racist themes during the election. Sarkozy is also criticised for his foolhardy tax cuts and the foregone public revenue that has led to economic turmoil during the current recession.
Sarkozy is widely expected to lose the presidency to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. The first round of the presidential elections had Hollande in front (28.8%) to Sarkozy in second place (26.1%). Marine Le Pen scored twenty per cent, outpolling her elderly father, and it is difficult to say who might benefit from that wild card.
Frederic Martel: The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France Since 1968: Stanford, Stanford University Press: 1999.
Alain Badiou: The Meaning of Sarkozy: London: Verso Books: 2010.
Nancy and Toul-Rosieres: "The French election: Climbing Mount Improbable" Economist: 04.04.2012: http://www.economist.com/node/21552246