News / Europe

    Sarkozy Future Boosted as French Party Funding Case Dropped

    France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sept. 22, 2013. France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sept. 22, 2013.
    x
    France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sept. 22, 2013.
    France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sept. 22, 2013.
    Reuters
    French magistrates abandoned a long-running party funding investigation against former president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday, buoying his chances of a political comeback in 2017.
     
    Sarkozy, whom most conservatives want to see lead the centre-right in the 2017 presidential race, was targeted with others in a judicial inquiry into his UMP party's ties with France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
     
    At issue were allegations that Sarkozy, 58, took advantage of the mental frailty of billionaire Bettencourt to obtain money for his 2007 presidential campaign. He has denied wrongdoing.
     
    Sarkozy thanked supporters on his Facebook page after the decision by magistrates in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.
     
    “Two and a half years of investigation. Three judges. Dozens of police. Twenty-two hours of interrogations and confrontations. Four searches,” Sarkozy wrote. “This was the price to be paid so ensure the truth was finally established.”
     
    The two investigating magistrates in charge of the investigation decided to pursue their case against former French Budget Minister Eric Woerth, who at the time was treasurer for Sarkozy's UMP, and nine others in the case.
     
    Sarkozy has largely stayed out of the limelight since his defeat to Francois Hollande, but since the start of the year has fanned speculation that he is considering a re-election bid.
     
    Some 62 percent of conservative UMP voters want to see Sarkozy run for the presidency in 2017, according to an Ifop poll published in September.
     
    But while the ruling grants Sarkozy more freedom to intervene in public life, he faces further scrutiny in a series of other legal cases that involve him or those close to him.
     
    They include the so-called “Karachi Affair”, a drawn-out corruption case linked to arms sales and a deadly bombing in Pakistan in 2002, and a case involving allegations of influence peddling in an arbitration payout to a high-profile businessman.
     
    A Paris appeals court last week authorised magistrates to investigate whether Sarkozy, then president, violated judicial secrecy in 2011 by publishing a statement which referred to case records that were meant to be kept secret.
     
    Sarkozy denies all wrongdoing.
     
    Magistrates did not disclose publicly why they dropped the case against Sarkozy, who was put under formal investigation in March. Under French law, such a step means there is “serious or consistent evidence” pointing to likely implication of a suspect in a crime.
     
    Such formal inquiries usually lead to trial, but not always.
     
    Fillon challenge
     
    Legal troubles aside, Sarkozy will struggle despite his popularity with right-wing voters to impose himself as natural leader of his centre-right UMP party, which has barely recovered from a leadership struggle between two former allies.
     
    Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, once a stalwart supporter of Sarkozy and now a likely electoral rival for 2017, said this week he had no choice but to be “in conflict” with the former president.
     
    “I cannot take on all the consequences of a presidential candidacy and not be in conflict with Nicolas Sarkozy, given his state of mind,” Fillon told the JDD weekly paper. “De facto, we are in competition.”
     
    The UMP that Sarkozy once ran as a disciplined group has splintered into factions loyal to Fillon and rival party chief Jean-Francois Cope, a Sarkozy ally, with some former supporters saying that Sarkozy should bow out of politics.
     
    After brushing with bankruptcy following Sarkozy's failed re-election campaign, the UMP now faces a serious electoral challenge from the far-right National Front.
     
    The UMP candidate in a local election in southern France gathered only half as many votes as his National Front rival - a bad sign for the party's chances of regaining territory in municipal and European elections next year.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora