Sunday, December 18, 2011

PoliticsFrance: Sarkozy"s Gaullist opponent: Dominique de Villepin known abroad primarily as a dandy, represents withering faction in party

France’s presidential election

Toi aussi, Dominique?

How Dominique de Villepin could help to scupper Nicolas Sarkozy

De Villepin grandly steps forward
THIS week’s conviction of Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy’s predecessor as French president, for diverting public funds and abuse of office as mayor of Paris in the 1990s, was one more shock to France’s battered Gaullist establishment. It came after the surprise news that that Dominique de Villepin, who was Mr Chirac’s prime minister, would run for president. Mr de Villepin is best known for his stirring UN speech against the Iraq war in 2003, in the name of the values of an “old country, France”. Now he grandly offers to promote those values at home.
When Mr de Villepin was prime minister, Mr Sarkozy was just one of his (fellow Gaullist) ministers. The pair were rivals in politics and also opposites in style. A poet and admirer of Napoleon, Mr de Villepin once left the hapless Mr Sarkozy waiting in a seaside café, in full view of the cameras, while he emerged from a carefully staged ocean swim. Yet Mr de Villepin, who has never run for elected office, has no real party, no machine, little money and may struggle for the 500 signatures from elected officials needed to get on the ballot. Even his friends did not expect him to run. Revelling in the attention, he says he wants to “unite” the country with a non-partisan presidency for “exceptional times”.
He is not out to help Mr Sarkozy, as he rules out endorsing any second-round candidate. But nor can he hope to win—no poll gives him more than 2% of the vote. Which is why some suspect a less noble motive, to wreckces. ..Mr Sarkozy’s chan.
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