His comeback is being called ‘Sarko 2’. Now, four years after the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost out to Francois Hollande, Sarkozy has announced he will be running again in the country’s 2017 Presidential election. The announcement was not much of a surprise: Sarkozy has made no secret of his political intentions and has done much to try and generate publicity for himself (not least in being frequently spotted on the arm of his pop star wife). But Sarkozy is more than just a self-publicist and is proving himself shrewd in clawing back French public support. His key strategy is presenting himself as the safe pair of hands in a country reeling in the wake of a sequence of terror attacks which have left hundreds dead over the last 18 months.
And it’s a strategy which seems to be paying off: in the wake of last month’s Nice atrocity, Sarkozy was quick to criticise Hollande’s handling of the terror situation – an intervention which played a hand in his approval rating rising by several percentage points, narrowing the gap between him and rival Republican candidate Alain Juppe. Sarkozy has also demonstrated his tough stance wasn’t isolated to that incident. In an interview with Le Monde, Sarkozy said the recent attacks showed ‘how much we have to change the dimension of our response to Islamist terrorism’. That change of dimension, for Sarkozy, takes the form of locking up 10,000 suspects – who have not been proved guilty in a court of law – as a result of them having been identified as potentially radical. The flaws in that idea in a country which has been under a state of emergency since last November aren’t hard to spot. But the political capital therein is also clear for a candidate who is trying to snatch away support from those on the right, namely Marine Le Pen. In his announcement today, Sarkozy said: ‘I have decided to be a candidate for the 2017 presidential election. I felt I had the strength to lead this battle at a troubled time in our history’. It’s certainly a troubled time for France; whether France opts for a ’Sarko 2’ solution remains unsure.