Le Point is reporting without attribution that Sarkozy and Villepin have reached a deal. Villepin will head the UMP list in the European elections of June 2009. Sarko will see to it that the Clearstream affair goes no farther as far as Villepin is concerned. And Villepin in turn will help to heal the fissures in the UMP by cooling anti-Sarko sentiments among former Chiraquiens. Hervé Gattegno, the author of the piece, quotes Mazarin: "Magnanimity always follows from self-interest."
It's hard to conceive of a source for this story other than Villepin himself. Unless it was Sarkozy, which seems less likely. Villepin, who had a sword at his throat only a few months ago, is cast in the role of swashbuckler who has managed for now to avoid doom. And Sarko, if the report is true, would appear to be worried enough about the intraparty Fronde that he needs to spare his old enemy, against whom he had seemed to be waging a personal vendetta. Earlier reports had suggested that the prosecutors wanted to close the case against Villepin for lack of evidence but had been prevailed upon to reopen the investigation. The hint then was that the pressure had come from on high. If this new story is true, then Sarko has decided to relent, but since the investigation remains open, he has Villepin on a short leash.
Stay tuned. A duel between Sarkozy and Villepin promises to be infinitely more amusing than a duel with Devedjian or Copé. Quoting Mazarin seems apt. S and V may not be characters out of Corneille, but they do rise above Les Guignols de l'Info.