President Sarkozy can be encouraged by new satisfaction ratings that show a jump of five percentage points, according to a new poll to be published on Thursday in Le Point.

"/> President Sarkozy can be encouraged by new satisfaction ratings that show a jump of five percentage points, according to a new poll to be published on Thursday in Le Point.

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Ratings boost for ‘more presidential’ Sarkozy

President Sarkozy can be encouraged by new satisfaction ratings that show a jump of five percentage points, according to a new poll to be published on Thursday in Le Point.

Ratings boost for 'more presidential' Sarkozy
Remi Jouan

The IPSOS survey shows an overall score for the leader of 35 percent. This is “an important improvement” said Frédéric Dabi, the company’s director of polling.


The improvement is believed largely to be down to a campaign of “re-presidentialisation” of the head of state. Simply put, this means a more dignified, presidential-style approach, rather than the hyper-energetic president who likes to get involved in every issue.


Uncharacteristically, Sarkozy has stayed above the fray in recent domestic matters such as the argument over Eva Joly’s claim that the military parade on July 14th should be abandoned or the allegations of attempted rape against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


Dabi characterised this approach as “more sober, more rarefied and more unifying.” He has also been reluctant to comment on his wife Carla’s pregnancy and has stayed away from contentious topics such as the removal of warning signs for speed cameras.


Instead, the president has focused more on international affairs, such as the eurozone crisis and the recent deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan. Dabi also noted a shift in speaking tone that is “much slower”.


Other pollsters agree with the analysis. Jean-Daniel Levy, head of polling at Harris Interactive, told 20 Minutes that the new approach is more like that of former presidents. “He is a more consensual figure, bringing people together and taking the messages of France beyond our own borders.”


Even the president’s artistic tastes seem to have been transformed. Libération newspaper reports that the president has been wowing guests with his newly-found knowledge of classic films and writers. One guest told the newspaper “it’s like he’s on a revision programme, going through each author.” 


But not everyone seems to be convinced. Jérôme Garcin, presenter of a French cultural TV programme, told the newspaper, “I am very circumspect about this. In cultural matters, I don’t buy into this type of metamorphosis. You can’t sincerely go from Saving Private Ryan to (Danish director) Dreyer.”

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Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée

Right-wing candidates for the French presidential election face off in the first round of a US-style primary on Sunday with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe fighting to avoid being knocked out by an outsider.

Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée
Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

In a contest overshadowed by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, support for the early favourite Juppe has slipped and Francois Fillon, who served as prime minister under Sarkozy, has risen fast.

The right-wing nominating contest is crucial because with the French left divided, the winner is expected to go on to take the presidency in May, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff.

Juppe, 71, entered the two-month-long contest with polls showing him to be France's most popular politician, but his approach of playing the moderate against the fiery Sarkozy and the conservative Fillon appears to be backfiring.

Most polls now show Juppe and Sarkozy are neck-and-neck at around 30 percent, with Fillon close behind after making striking progress in recent weeks.

The two winners on Sunday will go through to the second round run-off a week later.

Two becomes three

“We were expecting a duel but in the end a three-way contest has emerged,” political scientist Jerome Jaffre said in Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Many have noted that 62-year-old Fillon's rise had coincided with the publication of his latest book entitled “Beating Islamic totalitarianism”.

An often confused final TV debate of the seven candidates on Thursday offered few clues about the possible outcome, although viewers polled afterwards said Fillon had performed the strongest.

Sparks flew when Sarkozy was asked about fresh claims that he received millions in funding from the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi towards his 2007 campaign.

Sarkozy called the question “disgraceful” and refused to answer.

Turning to the Trump effect, the former president said a more isolationist America created “a fantastic opportunity for France and Europe to re-establish a leadership role” on issues including border security and the reform of the UN Security Council.

“The next five years will mark the return of France and Europe to the international scene. America won't be there to put us in the shade,” he said.

Juppe meanwhile said the Trump-era heralded a triple “shock” — in the areas of trade, defence and the environment.

A return to protectionism would be “a tremendous regression”, Juppe said, while warning Europe against being “naive” in its dealings with the United States.

The three leading candidates have similar programmes, underpinned by pledges to reinforce domestic security in a country still under a state of emergency following a series of jihadist attacks.

They also share a desire to reinforce European borders and reduce immigration, while tax cuts also loom large.

The choice will come down to style.

Sarkozy has emphasised his tough-guy credentials, saying it makes him a better choice to handle Trump than the mild-mannered Juppe.

Fillon, who is popular in the business world, has promised “radical” economic measures but is the most conservative of the three on social issues.

Another unknown factor in Sunday's first round is the number of left-wing voters prepared to pay two euros and sign a declaration that they subscribe to “the values of the centre and the right” to vote in the right-wing primary.

Those who do are expected to vote against 61-year-old Sarkozy, who remains a highly divisive figure in France four years after he left office.

When the right-wing candidate is chosen on November 27, it is expected to trigger an announcement from deeply unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande on whether he intends to bid for re-election.

On Wednesday, Hollande's former economy minister Emmanuel Macron announced he would stand as an independent.

by AFP's Guy Jackson