Some will be sorry to see Nicolas Sarkozy go, a head of state with a certain style. In 2007, on the sixteenth of May, he crossed the Elysée Palace main courtyard to be greeted by the outgoing president, Jacques Chirac.
Sarkozy had backed Chirac’s fellow conservative challenger for President of France in 1995 and so he had found himself out in the cold for a while.
Twice minister of the interior, once minister of finance, and also budget minister, now Sarkozy had fought his way to the top.
Five hundred gilt-edge guests were there to witness this. Andrée, his mother, and children from his and his wife Cecilia’s previous marriages, and their own son, the youngest, weren’t going to miss this!
Young Louis let on more than most how impressed he was; who wouldn’t be, with the Grand collier de la Légion d’honneur: a kilo of gold, with his father’s name engraved on it?! This may be the first official instance of what came to be known as a ‘bling’ presidency.
In the final vote-count, Sarkozy got some 19 million. That’s about a million more than his successor. Thus he signed a contract to lead the French Republic for the next five years.
Cecilia had helped him to get there, he acknowledged. But her days with him were numbered – or his with her… She was out of there a few weeks later, with a divorce.
Sarkozy’s mandate was busy; he became famous for it, and even he admitted he had trouble grasping the symbolic dimension of being president.
He leaves the l’Elysée with his third wife, Carla Bruni, for a holiday. In June, he will receive an office the French keep for all their ex-presidents. He could take up practising law again.
Sarkozy, how golden the handshake?