Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sarkozy vs. Hollande: Endgame?

Things are not looking good for either François Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy to serve another term as president. Once again unemployment rose sharply in France--38,400 jobs lost last month, the most in a single month since 2013--and it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how Hollande can meet his own condition for running again--to invert the unemployment curve.

As for Sarkozy, les petits juges he so reviles may finally have caught up with him. The cour de cassation validated the tapping of the burner phone he had rented in the name of Paul Bismuth, on which he is overheard discussing using his influence to obtain a post in Monaco for a court official who had leaked information to Sarkozy's lawyer about another corruption case in which he was allegedly involved. This clears the way for his trial on charges of influence peddling. Of course, the facts are already known--the contents of the wiretap having been leaked long ago--and that hasn't yet been enough to sink the former president. But his trial, if it occurs before the primaries, could affect the outcome. Of course, it might also be postponed until after the primaries, because the informal rule in France is that politicians aren't tried in the middle of an election campaign. But if he loses, he would then surely be tried in the period leading up to the presidential election. If he wins, he could get another postponement. Jail or the presidency--an interesting choice for voters.