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Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy was born an outsider. A child of immigrants who grew up outside the circles of the French political elite, Sarkozy beat the odds by slowly climbing up the political mountain until he reached France s highest peak--the office of the presidency. But how did this short, obese child from a broken home grow up to become the president of France?

Nicolas Paul Stephane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa was born on 28 January 1955 in Paris (17th arrondissement). Sarkozy is a child of immigrants, with a Hungarian Catholic father. He is the son of Hungarian aristocrat Pal Istvan Erno Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa. His mother came from a Jewish family from Salonika that converted to Catholicism. His mother, Andree Jeanne "Dadu" Mallah, is of French Catholic origin, and she raised her son in the French Catholic tradition.

The couple got married on the 8th of February 1950, and Andree gave birth to Sarkozy five years later on the 28th of January, 1955. After his father left the family when Sarkozy was four years old, he was raised in France by his mother's father, the Salonika-born Benedict Mallah. Formerly a lawyer at the Paris bar, he became Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1983, a position he held until 2002. Elected as a National Assembly deputy in 1988, he has held various government posts: Minister for the Budget (1993-1995), Minister for Communication (1994-1995) and Government Spokesman (1993-1995).

Sarkozy's parents originally moved to Paris in 1950, and settled in the city's 17th arrondissement. His older brother, Guillaume was born in 1951, and his younger brother Francois was born in 1957. In 1959, Sarkozy's parents divorced, and his father left the family to marry another woman. He later went on to have two more children with his second wife.

Despite being the wealthy owner of an advertising agency, Sarkozy's father refused to give his ex-wife any financial support. Following their divorce, Sarkozy's mother was forced to move in with her father, who owned a small mansion in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. Sarkozy recalls rarely seeing his father after he left, something which he claims shaped the person he is today. His paternal influence instead came from his grandfather, who converted from Judaism to Catholicism. Sarkozy was influenced by his Gaullist grandfather, and states that the former president Charles de Gaulle and Pope John Paul II were two of his strongest influences.

Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the Frances most prominent and popular politicians.

Sarkozy had been a member of the French political party Union for a Popular Movement since 2002, known in France as Union pour un Mouvement Populaire [UMP]. The Union for a popular movement (UMP) was created in 2002 from a merger of the RPR (Republican alliance, founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976), the heir of Gaullism, part of the UDF (Union for French democracy) together with parties such as Démocratie libérale [liberal democracy], the Parti radical [the radical party] and the Centre national des indépendants et paysans [independant and small farmers union]. Since 2002, the heads of government have come from the UMP group, the majority party in the Assemblée nationale.

Sarkozy spent four years in total as the Minister of the Interior, eight months as the Minister of Finance, two as the Minister of the Budget, and 19 years as the Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine. His political career followed a surprisingly average education as a child, and a slightly more remarkable education as an adult.

On 7 May 2002, he was appointed Minister of the Interior, Internal Security and Local Freedoms in the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who became Prime Minister after Jacques Chirac's re-election. On 1 April 2004, he was appointed Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government. He was elected Chairman of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) on 28 November 2004. He had also been elected Chairman of the Hauts-de-Seine General Council. On 2 June 2005, he was appointed Ministre d'Etat, Minister of the Interior and Town and Country Planning. At the suggestion of the French Prime Minister, on 26 March 2007, the President of the Republic removed Nicolas Sarkozy as Minister of the Interior and Regional Development and Xavier Bertrand as Minister for Health and Solidarity. François Baroin was appointed Minister of the Interior and Regional Development

In the April 22, 2007 first round of presidential elections, Sarkozy, the leader of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, placed first; Socialist candidate Segolene Royal placed second; centrist Francois Bayrou placed third; and extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen placed fourth out of a field of 12 candidates. Sarkozy prevailed in the May 6, 2007 second round, defeating Royal by a 53.06% to 46.94% margin. Royal's loss marked the third straight defeat for the Socialist candidate in presidential elections. Voter participation, which reached 84% in the first round, was at approximately 85%.

In the run-off election held on 06 May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France for a five-year term, with 53.06% of votes. Nicolas Sarkozy ran against Ségolène Royal, who received 46.94% of the vote. Voter participation, which reached 84% in the first round, was at approximately 85%.

He officially took office as President of the Republic on 16 May 2007 for a five-year term. Nicolas Sarkozy became the sixth president elected by direct universal suffrage under the 5th Republic, after Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.

Jacques Chirac handed power to Sarkozy on May 16, 2007. Chirac was 74, had just finished his second term and was ready to relax into retirement. Sarkozy, all smiles, went so far as to accompany his predecessor to his car. Chirac then rolled down the window to shake Sarkozy’s hand before leaving the Elysée. The political camaraderie, however, stood in icy contrast to the unenthusiastic glances that Sarkozy was getting from his wife, Cécilia, as she accompanied their son Louis and four other children from the couple’s previous marriages. The French press had a field day with Cécilia’s marked lack of enthusiasm.

At his inauguration ceremony, Sarkozy proudly displayed his non-conventional family including two sons from his first marriage, his second wife Cecilia, two daughters from her first marriage, and their young son. The glamorous "reconstructed" family appeared in glossy photo spreads in the classy society magazine Paris Match, marking a decisive break from the more traditional presidential families of the past. This reputation was only reinforced when Sarkozy soon became the first president to divorce in office, leaving Cecilia, and less than one year later the first to marry in power, tying the knot with former model and singer Carla Bruni, more than ten years his junior.

President Sarkozy named Francois Fillon Prime Minister. Jean-Louis Borloo became the second-highest ranking figure in the government, presiding over an expanded Ministry of Environment, renamed the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Planning. Legislative elections held on June 10 and 17, 2007 gave the UMP a large parliamentary majority. A vote to elect French representatives to the European Parliament will take place June 7, 2009 and balloting to elect the Presidents of Regional Councils will occur in spring 2010.

In electing Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters endorsed the wide-ranging program of reforms--including market-oriented social and economic reforms--that were the focal point of Sarkozy's campaign, implicitly giving him the green light to try and implement these reforms quickly, and allowing a way forward for overcoming France's 2005 rejection of the EU constitutional treaty. By embracing a figure long tagged as "pro-American," French voters also expressed their desire to renew trust in the U.S.-France relationship. During the campaign Sarkozy often ended his stump speeches--evoking Martin Luther King--by calling for a "French dream" of social equality, social mobility, and equal opportunity, and his first speech as President-elect assured his "American friends" that they could rely on France's friendship.

Nicolas Sarkozy becsme the sixth president elected by direct universal suffrage under the 5th Republic, after Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac. Since becoming the President of France in 2007, he was hailed by both left and right wing political parties, who praised many of his policies.

Since his inauguration in May 2007 as France's sixth president under the Fifth Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy focused his first months in office on improving the performance of France's economy through liberalization of labor markets, higher education, and taxes. During his first year and a half in office, Sarkozy eliminated income taxes on overtime hours, lengthened the contribution period for retirees to receive full pensions, and established a "minimum service" requirement on strike days, among other reforms. He also completed a major revision of the French constitution, which gave parliament more oversight responsibility, particularly with respect to approval of long-term French military deployments abroad.

French and EU analysts stress that longer-term reform measures must focus on reducing the future burden of ballooning public pension and health care budgets, as well as reducing labor-related taxes. Against a backdrop of gloomy economic news, France saw a pair of general strikes and massive but peaceful street protests (between 1 and 3 million people nationwide) in January and March 2009. Despite low public approval ratings, President Sarkozy governed at a time when the main opposition, the Socialist Party (PS), was fragmented and in the minority in both houses of parliament.

Two years in, 85 per cent of French people call their president "dynamic", and 75 per cent "courageous". 66 per cent say that Sarkozy "knows how to make difficult decisions", but only 30 per cent say that he delivers solutions to their problems. Finally, a mere 26 per cent would say that Sarkozy listens to his constituents, all according to a poll conducted by CSA, published in the French press Wednesday. While the international financial crisis has derailed many of his plans for free market reforms, Sarkozy started off campaigning on a platform of "rupture" with the political culture of the past - and he certainly delivered.

Although many of Sarkozy's actions as the President of France were popular, often attracted criticism from those who took a strictly liberal approach. One such controversial policy was the banning of burqas in public, a head dress that is voluntarily worn by some Muslim women. While Sarkozy was criticized for this policy, he also was heralded for the moves he took to strengthen France's international relations.

Throughout his career, Sarkozy managed to instigate changes within France. These changes have not only gained him praise from those who live there, they also gained him international recognition.

Sarkozy defended his flashy style by saying that former presidents had simply hidden their expensive habits. By comparison, he was being "honest" and "transparent". These two words would, together with "reform", become the leitmotif for his first two years. Not long after moving into the Elysée, Sarkozy opened up the presidential palace expenses to public scrutiny and gave himself a raise of nearly 150 per cent, arguing that it would free him from having to dip into shady expense accounts.

The early reforms were economic, pushing France away from the highly regulated statist economy, if only using baby steps. Sarkozy introduced a minimum service to guarantee that trains would run and that children would have teachers to welcome them at school during strikes. He then introduced a tax ceiling, capping the maximum amount of income tax anyone could pay at 50 per cent - a move derided by detractors as a gift to the rich.

Ushering in a constitutional reform, Sarkozy assumed the right to personally name the leaders of parliamentary commissions, and then passed a law that explicitly gave him the power to nominate and dismiss the heads of public radio and television - both defacto powers his predecessors exercised before him. The president took on school and university reform, though stiff opposition has prevented these modernization schemes from going ahead as planned. Undocumented immigrants, who had a strong presence in France, experienced an unprecendented crackdown under Sarkozy. Unlike Italy and Spain who recently presided over mass regularisations of immigrants, France has chosen to set high quotas for their deportations - first 25,000, now 27,000 per year.

Sarkozy took on an international profile when France took on the rotating presidency of the European Union, where he tackled the Russian invasion of Georgia and the Irish "no" to the new European Constitution called the Lisbon Treaty.

At the mid-point of his five-year term, by 2009 French President Sarkozy continued to be the dominant, virtually unchallenged, political force in France. Slowed in domestic reform efforts by entrenched interests and the world-wide financial crisis, Sarkozy increasingly focused on successfully leveraging France's foreign policy influence on the global stage. Ambitious and action-oriented, Sarkozy doesn't hesitate to break traditional French policies and reach out to new partners, from Saudi Arabia and Syria to India and Brazil. His impatience for results and desire to seize the initiative -- with or without the support of international partners and his own advisors -- challenges us to channel his impulsive proposals into constructive directions with an eye to long-term results.

An open lover of the United States, Sarkzoy showered his praise on everything American and made no secret of his support for Barack Obama before and after his election. This was a far cry from the French refusal to participate in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which led to the infamous removal of French moniker from the fries served in the US Congress, redubbed Freedom Fries as a result. Since Sarkozy's election however, French Fries reappeared in Washington, and the freeze in transatlantic relations has begun to thaw. This was made explicit when France re-entered the military command structure at Nato, ending a principled arms-length relationship established by Charles de Gaulle in protest of American dominance in the alliance, and continued for decades as a way to assure an independent voice for France on the world stage.

Defeated in his re-election bid in 2012, by 2014 Sarkozy was under formal judicial investigation, suspected of trying to get inside information from a judge about an inquiry into his 2007 presidential campaign. Both his lawyer and the judge in question, Gilbert Azibert, are also under investigation, in a case that appears to be built on wiretapped conversations. Sarkozy denounced the wiretaps, suggesting he was being singled out for unfair and scandalous treatment. He suggested the justice system had been manipulated for political ends.

The investigation into Sarkozy came as he appeared poised for a political comeback two years after losing the election to Socialist President Francois Hollande. Hollande was hugely unpopular and Sarkozy's own center-right UMP Party is in disarray, but this new investigation, one of several scandals surrounding Sarkozy, may derail his political hopes.

Sarkozy announced 19 September 2014 his return to the country’s political arena after being beaten by current president Francois Hollande in 2012. Sarkozy is likely to run as the candidate for the center-right aligned Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which could put him in line for another presidential bid. “I am a candidate for the presidency of my political family,” he wrote. “I propose a complete transformation so as to create within three months the conditions for a vast new movement that will address itself to all French people irrespective of partisanship.” The UMP is renowned for its fragmentation and internal divisions following election defeat. The next presidential election will take place in 2017.

Sarkozy won the leadership of the conservative UMP party in a key step toward a possible presidential run in 2017. Party officials said Sarkozy won 64.5 percent of votes cast November 29, 2014 by party members. Some analysts said he won by a lower margin than expected.

Sarkozy hoped to storm back into the Elysée Palace, but saw his hopes of a comeback crushed at the first hurdle as results for the conservative primary trickled in 20 November 2016. He was knocked out in the first round, managing to garner only 20 percent of the vote. To add insult to injury, he finished far behind his own former prime minister, François Fillon (44 percent), and former French PM and current Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé (29 percent).

Sarkozy is to face trial over the allegedly fraudulent financing of his doomed 2012 bid for re-election. The prosecution claims Sarkozy greatly exceeded a spending limit of 22.5 million euros ($24 million) by using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion. One of two judges in charge of the case, Serge Tournaire, had decided on 03 February 2017 that the case should go to trial after the failure of Sarkozy's legal efforts to prevent it in December.

Bygmalion allegedly charged 18.5 million euros to Sarkozy's rightwing party -- which at the time was called the UMP, but since was renamed the Republicans -- instead of billing the president's campaign. Executives from the company have acknowledged the existence of fraud and false accounting and the trial will focus on whether Sarkozy himself was aware or taking decisions about it.

Sarkozy blasted what he said was a lack of evidence for corruption charges against him over claims the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi funded his 2007 election campaign, in his court statement published 22 March 2018. The day after he was charged in France's most explosive political scandals in decades, the 63-year-old rightwinger said in the statement published by the Figaro newspaper that he had been in "living hell" since the allegations emerged in 2011. The allegations that Sarkozy took money from Kadhafi - whom he helped to topple in 2011 - are the most serious out of myriad investigations dogging him since he left office. Sarkozy dismissed the allegations as the rantings of vindictive Kadhafi loyalists who were furious over the French-led military intervention that helped end Kadhafi's 41-year rule and ultimately led to his death.

Sarkozy was set to go on trial 23 November 2020 for attempted bribery of a judge in what could turn into a humiliating postscript to a political career tainted by a litany of legal woes. The ex-president, along with his lawyer Thierry Herzog and judge Gilbert Azibert, were accused of corruption. Though Sarkozy wasn't the first modern French head of state in the dock – his predecessor and political mentor Jacques Chirac was convicted of embezzlement – he was the first to face corruption charges. Sarkozy fought furiously for six years to have the case thrown out, denouncing "a scandal that will go down in history". The combative politician, whose style made him one of France's most popular politicians, told BFM TV "I am not a crook".

Prosecutors say Sarkozy promised Azibert a plush job in Monaco in exchange for inside information on an inquiry into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign. Sarkozy caught a break this month when his main accuser, the French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, suddenly retracted his claim of having delivered millions of euros in cash from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Regardless of this trial, he would be back in court in March 2021 along with 13 other people over claims of campaign finance violations during his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid. Prosecutors accuse Sarkozy's team of using a fake-invoices scheme orchestrated by the public relations firm Bygmalion to spend nearly €43 million on the lavish run – nearly twice the legal limit.

Sarkozy was handed a one-year prison sentence by a Paris court on Thursday (September 30) after being found guilty of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid. His lawyer said he would appeal. This was the second conviction for Sarkozy, guilty of spending nearly twice the limit on his failed 2012 re-election bid. With two other cases pending, questions abound surrounding the one-term Conservative and the strength of France's justice system. Sarkozy is the first-ever former French president to be handed a custodial sentence. However, if the ruling is upheld on appeal, there will be no jail time: he will be one year under house arrest with an electronic bracelet. Even though he has spent the last decade out of office and mostly embroiled in legal battles, Sarkozy still enjoyed a loyal following within the French right.

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Page last modified: 25-10-2021 16:34:22 ZULU