Nicolas Sarkozy's cruise to another presidential nomination has proved to be anything but. Although he seems to have escaped his worst nightmare--no indictments have been handed down, and it's probably too late for judicial sabotage by les petits pois--opponents are cropping up in every corner of the right. The latest to announce is Jean-François Copé, until last week himself jailbait. But for whatever reason he was not mis en examen in the Bygmalion affair. Since the options for the judges were 1) he was guilty of peculation or 2) he was incredibly negligent in his job as leader of the UMP, it would seem that exoneration hardly qualifies him to be president of France, but ambition, as usual, seems to have gotten the better of reason, and he is running, having already published a comeback book with the very Gaullist title Le Sursaut. Copé's move is not only a consequence of his long-nursed presidential ambitions but also a manifestation of his understandable desire for vengeance. Sarkozy, the chief beneficiary of the Bygmalion manipulations, somehow escaped the subsequent maelstrom, which took Copé out of politics for two years and threatened to end his political career for good. It's payback time.
Copé was never a very popular figure, however, even in his heyday, and Sarkozy never trusted him enough to give him a ministry, so this defection is the least of his concerns. More serious is the defection of former PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who still has a base of support among more centrist party militants. Raffarin, no fan of Sarko's, has unsurprisingly thrown his support to Juppé, "une personnalité forte, fiable, et fidèle." These are un-sexy attributes, and the Juppé-Raffarin tandem is probably the least charismatic imaginable, but after un hyperprésident and un président soi-disant normal, France would probably be only too happy to settle for quiet competence.