Sarkozy to run for president again

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced his candidacy for the 2017 presidential elections with his book Tout pour la France (All for France). In November he will run in the primaries of the right-wing Republicans party. Commentators warn of the dangers of voting a candidate with a far-right programme into the Elysée Palace.

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El País (ES) /

Ex-president copying Le Pen

Sarkozy has positioned himself on the far right fringes of French society in his new election campaign, El País comments:

“The harsh proposals put forward by Nicolas Sarkozy when he launched his candidacy for next year's presidential election are bad news for French democracy, which for decades had been a global symbol of openness and tolerance. The extremism displayed by the French ex-president testifies to a lamentable shift towards positions more characteristic of the far right. And this, paradoxically, from someone who is presenting himself as a moderate alternative to the Front National in the race for the presidency.”

Jornal de Negócios (PT) /

Next French president will help shape Europe

Fernando Sobral explains in Jornal de Negócios why all Europe is transfixed by the presidential primaries in France:

“France is one of the EU's two poles. And in a presidential system of government knowing who will be moving into the Elysée Palace in 2017 serves as an indication of what direction Europe will take. In the middle of the race for candidacy in the Green, conservative and socialist primaries everyone is already focussed on the presidential election. So it's no coincidence that ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has gone on the offensive and chosen to take the bull by the horns. Why? Because [his rival] Alain Juppé is also very popular. … On the left too there are several candidates: Hollande, [prime minister] Valls, [ex-economics minister] Montebourg and [MEP for the Left party] Mélenchon. The confusion appears to be considerable.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

The country needs a conciliator, not a divider

Sarkozy speaks the plain language many French are longing for and this could secure him a second presidency, the Frankfurter Rundschau observes:

“Divide, don't reconcile, is his motto. What cost him his popularity - and ultimately the election victory - in his first term of office will serve him well now. Tired of the back-and-forthing of the Socialist François Hollande, unsettled by terrorist attacks, part of the French population longs for a leader who speaks clearly and takes action. After lagging far behind in the opinion polls for a long time Sarkozy has been gaining ground recently. People seem to have forgotten that French society, worn down by labour struggles and growing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims, needs a leader who can reconcile differences and win the people over. We can only hope that other candidates will bear this in mind too.”

Le Soir (BE) /

No more populism, please!

Those seeking to run for the French presidency bear special responsibility in view of the threat of terror, Le Soir believes:

“More than ever, the circumstances oblige candidates to distance themselves from populism and short-term shock measures. Banning the burkini on beaches cannot serve as a programme. No more than prohibiting headscarves from universities or abolishing special meals [without pork] in school cafeterias can. Far more is at stake here. To gain a better understanding of the problem we need to call in the security experts.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Ex-president brings clarity to campaign

Sarkozy's programme is clear and consistent, Le Figaro writes, and calls on the other candidates to lay their cards on the table:

“The important thing is not the man but the ideas, the project, and the solutions for getting France back on its feet. For Sarkozy there are five challenges: to tell the truth, defend our identity, revive competitiveness, restore authority, and guarantee freedom. His proposals are by no means uncertain, and they aren't restricted to the liberalism to which many would like to limit the primaries. On the contrary: in Sarkozy's view more regulation will allow our country to preserve its soul and culture. Now the other candidates must also show their cards so that those who want to vote can make an informed decision.”

Libération (FR) /

Clear, but intolerant and neo-liberal

The book in which Sarkozy lays out his platform is indeed worrying, Libération comments:

“He outlines a radical break with the past, comprised for the most part of measures borrowed from [leader of the Front National] Marine Le Pen on the one hand and [head of the employers' association] Pierre Gattaz on the other. His goal: to convince voters that everything will improve in France once immigration has been restricted, Muslims have been forced to keep a low profile and major welfare cuts have been pushed through. The project lacks pertinence, but at least it's clear. And it makes plain what's at stake in the next presidential elections: whether or not we want to preserve the achievements of the social republic that have been handed down to us over the years, and whether or not we will make immigrants and their children scapegoats for the difficulties we face.”