These days the right wing party Republicans are holding their presidential primaries for the 2017 presidential election in France.

Technically speaking, the person designated to represent the Republicans is likely to be the next president of France: Socialists have low numbers in the polls (Hollande would fall in French presidential election's first round: poll) and the second round is forecasted to be between Le Pen and the designated from the Republicans. Then, people from left wing to center are likely to vote for the right wing to avoid the extreme right to gain the power.

Since his return into politics in 2014, Sarkozy was getting good numbers in the polls and it was rather possible to get him elected. Yesterday, he got a tiny 20.7% of votes, while Fillon got 44.2% and Juppé 28.4%.

Considering that he lost the presidential elections in 2012 by a narrow margin (51.6% vs 48.7%), what are the reasons why he got so much undesirable by French right wing voters since he was out of politics for half of this time?

He is known for adopting some of National Front's policies, but ideologically he is not very far from the rest of the candidates, so it seems to be a defeat based on his character and not his policies.

I do not see Sarkozy's decline as something related to new politicians appearing in the scene and shadowing his charisma. On the contrary, he was defeated by Fillon and Juppé, both being veteran politicians that have been in elected positions since the 1980s.

  • Can't Defend against Le Pen Nov 21, 2016 at 15:53
  • 1
    Well, according to this, even if Sarkozy has been out of politics since 2012, politic scandals have not been out of Sarkozy during this time: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. I have no media about the impact of those, though.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 21, 2016 at 18:38
  • What makes you think politicians in other countries are not active for decades? I don't think the last paragraph adds anything to your question.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 24, 2016 at 10:01
  • @Relaxed I have heard many times about gerontocracy associated with French politics. See Fillon's list of ministries: he was a minister more than 20 years ago. Same (or even more) with Juppé. Compare it with for example the Mark_Rutte, who was "just" a member of the House of Representatives 15 years ago. See also in other countries with Theresa May, Tsipras... My point here is that old candidates tend to be shadowed by emerging politicians, but it is not the case for Sarkozy, who was defeated by old known ones.
    – fedorqui
    Nov 24, 2016 at 13:20
  • @fedorqui I am sure you have, French people who know very little about what's going on elsewhere love to cherry pick a few examples and then complain that "only France [...]". But you could also take any Italian politician, any Greek politician but Tsipras (who was elected in quite dramatic circumstances), many German politicians, MP in the UK, look at the last US election, the examples abound. Sure there are a handful of exceptions and a few youthful prime ministers here and there but that's not what "contrary to other countries" suggests. Still think the question would be better without it.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 24, 2016 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


I live in France, Sarkozy lost popularity due to:

  • He was not centrist enough, he tried to reform the trade unions and socialist tendency of France which is a very steep task, but he didn't improve the lobbying situation in France.

  • His child almost gained access to a corrupt job after college: Director of Trade in Paris Defense District (i.e. Mayor of New Jersey at 20 by official appointment) with an annual budget of more than 1 billion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Sarkozy#La_D.C3.A9fense_controversy

  • He was aggressive against Hollande in the national debate, and presented more of an upset, angry tirade, against Hollande's moderate, defensive, calmer stance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm88_4pb3Qg (see for yourself who was more self assured, else read the behaviour analyses in the media from that time)

  • The same happened with the previous challenger, Segolene Royale, who was upset, angry, accusative towards Sarkozy in the previous election's televised debate, and she lost out.

  • Better alternatives to Sarkozy have emerged for the right: Francois Fillon is the previous Prime Minister under the President and has a calmer temperament and voice and is more centrist.

  • Sarkozy is impulsive, exciteable, has ticks, sometimes poor mannerism, sometimes slobbish expressions, lack of presidential grandeur. He had a tendency to be bombastic, imperial and agricultural, in a peculiar combination.(example of some behaviour that the media found to be brash: https://www.google.fr/search?espv=2&biw=896&bih=542&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=sarkozy+mauvaise+presentation ... if you want, compare with his challenger: https://www.google.fr/search?espv=2&biw=1024&bih=620&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=fillon+mauvaise+presentation)

Perhaps i can compare him to Tony Blair, both strongmen, Previously Sarkozy was popular because he was vociferous, energetic, educated and idealistic, with a good record in law and order, anti-immigration, but he didn't make it as a national reformer. Tony Blair did reforms on the national system in his clumsy but nationally reforming way. For example, Tony Blair achieved the peace deal with Ireland, the "Devolution of Parliaments" program and "Transparency of UK affairs", which changed the UK considerably, with Scotland having a parliament, and N. Ireland, rejuvenated the education system with the "New Deal" to make it easier to get paid apprenticeships for students, and had other big popular programs like "Cool Britannia" for international image, he also scrapped the previous industrial regulators for telecoms and pharmacy and rebuilt them, larguely because they were indemically corrupt in the UK.

Sarkozy did relatively little of that, He pushed in a lot of smaller reforms. No big programs, (you may cite HADOPI, one of his big branded programs, to stamp out web piracy, a failed Sarkozy venture.) no cool branding for his programs, I can't honestly say that i heard France gaining notable big reforms in the 9 years i lived here, other than contentious laws against socialist rights and worker rights. That said, France didn't have the endemic corruption problems in all industries that the UK did after John Major and the Thatcherite movement, so there was less reforming to do in France.

France gained in wealth due to it's cautious banking, but is much the same as it was, very socialist with a lot of free education and a very slow monolithic national government which has trouble making decisions, but that is less likely to have rogue subversive governments like Thatcher's ended up, and Bush's was. France is inefficient in some ways and used to have a larger middle class because of less of the 1% phenomenon by providing for the poor and taxing the industries. As long as the population aren't treated unjustly in France, their political will is not that passionate.

Like in most big governments, France has a problem of Elitism in politics, all the leaders hail from the same academies and it's very difficult for an independent like gain popularity with the media moguls and be taken seriously by politicians. There is one thing for certain in French politics it's that Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is the hot one to look out for in ten years.

  • 1
    This answer could be improved by providing some sources for the claims you make.
    – Philipp
    Nov 23, 2016 at 14:12
  • Most of the 10-20 facts i have mentioned are simple facts verifiable by checking online. Perhaps another french person can answer it better, that's my view hailing from a european diplomatic school in Oxford, being French, and having lived in France since 2008. I'm am sourcing my answer from telivision reports and news articles that i read to keep in touch with french politics. Nov 23, 2016 at 14:19
  • 1
    "François Fillon is more centrist" : since Sarkozy moved a lot to the extrem right during the last primary campaign, maybe this should be clarified. François Fillon is more centrist than Sarkozy is in 2016. For Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, you should mention that she is from the National Front (that is not a detail). Ultimately I think that the last sentence in general doesn't answer the question.
    – SdaliM
    Nov 23, 2016 at 19:34
  • it's true. I had a comment in editing stating that france is not federal. Wiki says that :Federalism refers to the mixed or compound mode of government... In France it's much easier to have a Prime Minister voted from Left and a President voted from Right in a government "marriage" i believe it's called poltical bed sharing or something? In the UK, there is first past the poll representation, which discourages mixed governments, so the UK is a lot less federal than France. other countries i.e. Holland? Germany? have far more mixed power sharing. Nov 23, 2016 at 21:13
  • 1
    Which... who,is for people only. UK is a constitutional monarchy without proportional representation of votes in the government, so no coalitions at all for the winning party unless it chooses to, it has changed from a centralized london government to a decentralized government since 1997, a process knows as devolution, which makes it a confederacy. EU is imposing more law on MPs. The London Government is not controlled by the devolved parliaments, it's the reverse. la 5eme republique, Judicial/Executive division is confusing, it's difficult to explain the executive rights of the government. Nov 24, 2016 at 13:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .