Why the UMP Ate It

sarkozyparisblog

In France’s regional elections, Nicolas Sarkozy’s center right party UMP suffered major losses, in part because the President’s supporters abstained from voting at all.Why? The financial crisis and recession have hurt governing parties everywhere, but some of the blame clearly goes to President Sarkozy himself.

Here are five of the biggest mistakes that have hurt his popularity and credibility–most crucially with his own supporters:

1. Allowing his son to become a candidate to head EPAD, which runs La Défense France’s richest business area.

Prince Jean has not even graduated law school yet. The effort to drop him into a key post as head of France’s most important business district made Sarkozy look arrogant and France like a banana republic. Also, it mortally offended many of Sarkozy’s best supporters.

2. Launching a pointless debate on “National Identity”

Why? The French LIKE Sarkozy’s promise to get tough with crime and expect him to deliver on it (which he has not yet managed to do.) Why this offensive and distracting sideshow? It hurt feelings and awakened the beast of the Far Right–to absolutely no purpose whatsoever!

fredericmitterandparisblog3. Appointing Frédéric Mitterand (pictured left) Culture Minister

Poaching the left for talent worked wonders with DSK, Bernard Kouchner and others.  Claiming the Mitterand name was apparently so irresistable that Sarkozy ignored warnings about Mitterand’s book La Mauvaise Vie in which he recounts sex tourism with Thai “garçons” (translate that however you like). No problem until Minister of Culture Mitterand attacked the US (still an ally) for demanding extradition from Switzerland (not France)  of genius film-maker Roman Polanski on charges of raping a minor, which he had fled years ago making him a fugitive.  In retaliation, Marine Le Pen read Mitterand’s sex tourism with “garçons” passage out loud on TV causing normal French people to question Sarkozy’s judgement in having appointed the man in the first place.

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