Saving Public Sarkozy

Ever since key public figures signed a manifesto in a French magazine denouncing the dangers of a monarchical drift – without ever mentioning the president’s name – the political atmosphere in France has been electric. Nicolas Sarkozy’s rapid fall from grace is unprecedented in the history of the Fifth Republic. His popularity ratings are plummeting, and his party, the conservative UMP, is predicted to fare badly in the municipal elections in mid-March.

What is behind the collapse in Sarkozy’s popularity? Can he recover?

These questions are crucial not only for France, because we are five months away from a French presidency of the European Union that should have been an important step in Europe’s own rebound.

The attacks on Sarkozy are very personal, and focus as much on his “essence” as on his performance. Can he incarnate France with dignity and legitimacy? Can he transform intuitions and speeches into concrete actions? Has he already lost touch with reality, surrounded as he is by a court of media courtesans?