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POLITICS

Has former French president Sarkozy really got taller since he left politics?

As soon as this week's cover of Paris Match magazine featuring Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni was released, the questions began: how was the diminutive former French president seemingly taller than his towering wife?

Has former French president Sarkozy really got taller since he left politics?
Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni. Photo: AFP

The front-page photoshoot might have sparked speculation the 64-year-old rightwinger was thinking of a political comeback, coming on the heels of his new book called “Passions” which has become a summer best-seller.

But social media users mostly wanted to know how Bruni, a former singer and model who measures 1.75 metres (five foot, nine inches), appeared to be standing up while nuzzling the neck of her husband, who is around 10 cm shorter.

 

The image sparked a series of cruel photoshopped pictures involving step-ladders and platform shoes before Paris Match put out a statement to deny suggestions it had doctored the image.

“Some people were surprised to see Nicolas Sarkozy taller than his wife Carla Bruni,” the magazine admitted, adding that the photo in question had been taken in June on some steps outside the couple's home.

“In the image chosen for the cover, Nicolas Sarkozy was on the higher step than his wife,” it added.

Paris Match brought unwelcome attention to Sarkozy's frame in 2015 with another front-page shot which appeared to show him taller than his wife as he led her across the sand on a beach in Corsica. 

 

The glossy celebrity and news magazine is often used by French politicians for publicity, knowing a flattering photoshoot and intimate interview can put them back in the public eye and spark interest.

Sarkozy has quit politics on two occasions in the past after election defeats, most recently in 2016 when his bid to become the presidential candidate for his rightwing Republicans party failed.

 

He is still embroiled in multiple corruption investigations dating to his five years in office from 2007-2012 focused on campaign financing and allegations he accepted money from the regime of late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

 

He denies all of the charges.

In his new book, he recalls his early years in politics and also touches on his private life, relating how his first wife Cecilia announced her desire for  a divorce on the eve of a crucial television debate ahead of his election as president in 2007.

The book has shot to the top of the best-seller lists and is the latest in a long line of his publishing successes which include “Together”, “France for Life” and “Everything for France”.

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ENERGY

Macron: ‘Don’t panic’ over risk of power cuts in France this winter

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday called growing fears of winter electricity outages overblown, even as authorities prepare for possible targeted power cuts if consumption is not reduced and cold snaps strain the grid.

Macron: 'Don't panic' over risk of power cuts in France this winter

France’s network is under pressure as state power company EDF races to restart dozens of nuclear reactors taken down for maintenance or safety work that has proved more challenging than originally thought.

Reduced gas exports from Russia as it cuts supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine war have added to worries that gas-burning power plants might have to trim production.

“Stop it — we’re a major power, we have a great energy system, and we’re going to get through this winter despite the war,” Macron told reporters ahead of an EU/Balkans summit in Tirana, Albania.

“This debate is absurd, the role of the public authorities is not to breed fear,” he added.

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Macron had already urged people “not to panic” over the weekend, saying power cuts could be avoided if overall usage this winter was reduced by 10 percent.

But last week the government told local officials to begin preparing contingency plans in case targeted cuts were needed, possibly including closing schools until midday.

France is usually one of Europe’s largest electricity exporters thanks to its network of 56 nuclear reactors, which supply around 70 percent of its electricity needs.

But this winter it will be a major importer of power from Britain, Germany, Spain and other neighbouring countries, grid operator RTE said last week.

READ ALSO Schools, hospitals and trains – how France plans to deal with blackouts this winter

RTE’s chief Xavier Piechaczyk told Franceinfo radio that the risk of power cuts could not be excluded, “but it will essentially depend on the weather.”

Normally France’s 56 nuclear reactors can produce 61 gigawatts but with around half of the fleet offline, just 43 gigawatts are expected to be available by the end-January, he said.

And while France has the capacity to import up to 15 gigawatts, winter usage can surge to 90 gigawatts at peak hours, prompting the calls for energy “restraint” such as lowering thermostats and using washing machines and other appliances at night.

“Rule number one is that nothing is inevitable… Together we have the capacity to avoid any risk of cuts, no matter how the winter turns out,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told France 2 television on Tuesday.

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