France: King Sarkozy is in the altogether

30 September 2011
Le Point

Le Point, 29 September 2011

“The scent of the end of an era.” Like many French newspapers, Le Point news magazine devotes its front cover to the story of “truckloads of bad news that have been dumping on the Elysée Palace since mid-September. [...] Certain commentators are wondering – some out loud, a few politicians under their breaths [...] – how the President will be able to stand up to the coming months. Such is the turmoil – scandals, crisis, electoral defeat, loss of control over the UMP – that even the question of Sarkozy’s candidacy” for the presidency in 2012 “is up in the air”, writes the weekly.

Following the Bourgi affair over shady financing out of Africa that tarnished the Elysée Palace comes an imbroglio of complex cases swarming about the President. On one side, kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan that were allegedly used to finance the presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur, for whom Sarkozy was campaign spokesman. On the other, the Bettencourt affair, which over the last year has been raising doubts about some in Sarkozy’s inner circle.

Some of the President’s “men” – a lawyer, a businessman, the police chief and the head of domestic intelligence – have been questioned or indicted in the past few days for illegal wiretapping, pressuring witnesses or “misuse of public funds.”

Meanwhile, notes Le Point, the Senate majority has been lost, and the CAC 40 and the French banks are plunging. “There's a fire, but no one at the Elysée Palace gives the impression that they can put it out."