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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs