Thursday, September 19, 2013
DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: As Sarkozy plots a comeback, the ex-First Lady underscores his bling-bling image
The night Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in 2007, he set the tone for his presidency by holding a victory celebration at the très chic Fouquet's restaurant, attended by leading members of France's glitterati. The next day, he and his family set off on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the yacht of mega-rich businessman Vincent Bolloré. Those two events, along with Sarkozy's penchant for Rolex watches, gold neck chains and Italian designer suits, forever defined him in the popular mind as the "bling-bling" President, fascinated by the vulgar trappings of wealth and beholden to those who possessed and flaunted them.
It didn't help matters when he exchanged his first spouse for a stunning trophy wife in the person of Carla Bruni, a Franco-Italian model and singer who proceeded to spend some $500,000 in public money to set up her personal website. Sarkozy, a centre-right politician with roots in the Gaullist movement, protested that he represented the interests of all the French, rich and poor alike, and that those who dared to harp on his celebrity frequentations and his love of expensive jewelry (not to mention the extraordinary tax advantages that he concocted for the super-rich) were guilty of character assassination and base political partisanship. The voters had their say last year and dumped their bling-bling president in favor of the bland, uninspiring François Hollande, a Socialist Party veteran who championed "le petit people" and vowed to change the style and substance of French politics.
Undermined by an economic recession and high unemployment, Hollande sank to historic lows in the polls and will face an uphill battle for re-election in 2017. As his announced conservative challengers continue to cut one another up with petty backstabbing manoeuvres, guess who is emerging as a potential frontrunner? Nicolas Sarkozy.