• France's news in English

Hollande's Sarkozy joke riles French opposition

Ben McPartland · 25 Feb 2013, 09:08

Published: 25 Feb 2013 09:08 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Hollande took a humorous swipe at the man he defeated in last year’s presidential elections when he paid a visit to the annual Agricultural Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) in Paris on Saturday.

After a young boy approached him and said “I have never seen Nicolas Sarkozy”, Hollande smiled and replied “Oh well, you’ll never see him again.”

The comment was met with heartfelt laughter by all those gathered around the president, who has a reputation in France for cracking jokes.

However those on the right and especially Sarkozy’s former allies did not see the funny side.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, former spokeswoman for Sarkozy during his failed re-election bid said it was “an insult to the millions of French people who had voted for Nicolas Sarkozy”.

NKM, as she is known in France, added that the comment was proof the president is obsessed with the man he ousted from the Elysée Palace.

A furious Luc Chatel, a former government minister under Sarkozy said France needed a “president to perform his duties, not a variety performer”.

“Behind Monsieur Petite-Blagues (Mr Little Jokes) he hides a lot of pettiness towards his predecessor.”

This is not the first time a president has sparked controversy on a visit to the Salon de l’Agriculture, held at Porte de Versailles every year.

In 2007, Sarkozy famously told a farmer to “Get lost you poor idiot” after he refused to shake the then president's hand.

It is possible that Hollande’s joke at Sarkozy’s expense could come back to haunt him, with increased speculation that the former president will try to regain his place at the Elysée Palace in the 2017 presidential elections.

Members of the UMP are not likely to forget the joke in a hurry, as deputy Lionnel Luca suggested.

Story continues below…

“Socialist arrogance and impudence,” Luca tweeted. “Rendez-vous in 2017.”

The joke may even give Sarkozy that little bit of extra incentive to wrestle back the presidency from Hollande.

"Only a court can stop Sarkozy making a comeback" - Click here to read an expert's view of the chances of Sarkozy becoming president again.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available