Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sarkozy Mis en Examen

The question now becomes political: Can Sarkozy recapture the UMP, as he had been preparing to do, now that he has been mis en examen by a juge d'instruction (a position he had notoriously tried to destroy as president)? A rational person might view this second phase of the judicial procedure as a stroke of good fortune for the UMP if it sidelines Sarko permanently. Room may now exist for an untainted candidate, perhaps Juppé or Fillon. (Of course Juppé is untainted only if we agree to forget his conviction for corruption back in the day, but he is of course a new man, having been purged by hard Canadian winters).

The current affair is only one of several in which Sarkozy is enmeshed. If the bribery charge is proved, it lends credence to the charge of illegal financing of Sarkozy's 2007 campaign by Muammar Gaddafi--a flabbergasting allegation in light of Sarkozy's role in Gaddafi's ignominious fate.

The Woerth and Karachigate affairs also involve campaign financing, as does the more recent Bygmalion case. In view of the apparent corruption of French politics by the current system of campaign financing, it's remarkable that there has been so little discussion of reforming it.


Unknown said...

Hadn't been reformed after the Socialist were ensured in their racketing campaign?

DavidinParis said...

Maybe I am too cynical, and no major Sarko fan, but in my opinion, this is typical of the party in power going after the only person who threatens them. When Hollande is history, he will be in the same boat. France has not yet learned a graceful transfer of power but relies too heavily on the guillotine, whether it be a steel blade, or their judicial system.

Mitch Guthman said...


I strongly disagree with your premise. Le Monde has an excellent graphic presentation of the of the six affairs involving Sarkozy on its website and I believe that in all of these affairs the criminal investigation was opened before Hollande took office. Despite all of his whining last night, Sarkozy has never offered so much as a smidgin of evidence in support of his insinuations regarding the government. The abuse of the criminal justice system for political ends does not seem to be among Hollande's many failings.

Anonymous said...

why reform campaign financing if it can be such a useful tool to destroy one's (political) enemy?

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Anonymous,

I think you are assuming your conclusion. There’s no evidence in any of these affairs in which Sarkozy is involved that the Hollande government has acted improperly. All but one of the crimes or acts of serious corruption in which he is accused probably predated his presidency and, again, all of the investigations—including the wiretaps— appear to have initiated prior to the last presidential election.

The question of why campaign finance reform isn’t on the agenda in France is a good one and Art’s point is a sensible one. I think are mistaken that people from the political class would be interested in using scandals about campaign financing as a political weapon---they all understand perfectly well that this is a sword that cuts both ways.

From a host of revelations over the past few years, I suspect that most political parties in France use political donations---to a greater or lesser degree--- as a sort of “slush fund” to support the lifestyle to which the political class in Europe has become accustomed.

In the case of the UMP, I think that this tendency has become particularly pronounced because it has been for many years the French party of government and it seems to have grown accustomed to mobilizing the power of the State to fund its coffers—the Woerth, Karachigate, Gaddafi affairs all point to this as do the various affairs involving Ziad Takieddine—but also apparently as a conduit for putting cash in the pockets of UMP officials—this is the implication of the false invoices at the heart of the Bygmalion affair.

There’s a certain resemblance in these many affairs involving Sarkozy and the UNP to the way government business is conducted in one party states. Clearly, the inescapable conclusion is that France desperately needs campaign finance reform. It’s equally clear, however, that the rot in the political class that makes genuine reform imperative also probably makes it impossible.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of this NYT article?
2/3 of the article seem to be based strictly on Sarkozy supporters! What about other UMP members? People on the right or the left who don't buy the Sarkozy line?

Please realize that there ARE people in the UMP who are sick about this, who paid money and feel swindled, and who'd rather have Fillon or Juppé as the head of their party. Friends on the right (not in UMP) are all rather skeptical; the TV interview wasn't judged convincing. We can all imagine that there's truth to the accusation, that's the sad part.
And for all his faults and flaws and failings, really, Hollande is an honest guy (well, as honest as can be in his position). Dumb honest, if you will, but honest.