The Resistible Return of Nicolas Sarkozy

While only 20% of the French electorate view President François Hollande favorably, and nearly two-thirds do not wish to see Nicolas Sarkozy return, more than two-thirds hope that former Prime Minister Alain Juppé will. That makes the 69-year-old Juppé the most popular political figure in France.

PARIS – Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said that a week is a very long time in politics. If that is true, France’s 2017 presidential election is an eternity away, and any speculation at this point is premature, even imprudent. Nonetheless, some interesting preliminary developments merit consideration – specifically those concerning perceptions of President François Hollande and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, neither of whom would be likely to win an election today.

The French electorate’s disapproval is among the only things that Hollande and Sarkozy – two men with strikingly different personalities and approaches – have in common. In fact, Hollande was elected in 2012 precisely because he presented himself as the “anti-Sarkozy.”

Today, a significant majority of French voters cannot stomach the prospect of seeing either leader on their television screens for five more years (the duration of a French presidential mandate). Both Hollande and Sarkozy have been relegated to the category of “unwanted incumbent.”

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