A fun (and insightful) article was published in the New York Times today:
A Passion for (and Against) Sarkozy By Steven Erlanger.
According to the psychiatrist Serge Hefez, the French are suffering from his newly diagnosed mental disorder, “obsessive Sarkosis”, following the 2007 election of their break-the-mold President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy has always been a very colorful politician and provoked a “you either love him or hate him” reaction among the French. He is particularly known for being everywhere at once on the political scene, involving himself in all world and national political issues, sometimes at the expense of other politicians who are supposed to be in charge of those issues.
But it is particularly in the year after his election that he became known as the “Bling-bling” President, leading a lifestyle more like a Hollywood star than a traditionally dignified French national leader. Starting with vacations in glamourous locals on yachts and private jets of his millionaire friends, he would divorce his ex-fashion model second wife Cécilia (the rumors on the street are that it apparently was not his choice) and a few months later get remarried with another fashion model, Carla Bruni, who is also a singer-songwriter and Italian heiress (although she has lived in France from the age of 6).
And yes, the New York Times article is correct: the French are obsessed, looking upon their President with the same sort of fascination normally reserved for the latest Californian revelation, trying to figure out if they’ve elected a new-school leader full of promise or a train-wreck in the making.
Sarkozy has recently tuned down the “pipol” (‘people’ In phonetic French) lifestyle on the advice of his political entourage, who feel that it was in part responsible for a serious dive in his approval ratings at the approach of his first year in office. We’ll see what the future brings. If I could have voted, my ballot would have gone to Sarkozy, even though I consider myself more center-left than center-right. Despite his flamboyance I continue to think that he may be the man who can get France out of decades of economic gridlock. Time will tell if he’s a brilliant politician or not; in the meantime he’s at least a really good topic of conversation.