Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, has been found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling by a Paris court. He has been sentenced to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. Sarkozy is the second former president in modern France, after Jacques Chirac, to be convicted for corruption.
On Monday, Sarkozy, 66, was tried for an illegal action he was involved in where he attempted to acquire illegal information from a senior magistrate in 2014. Sarkozy served as president of France from 2007 to 2012. Prosecutors conveyed to judges that Sarkozy had presented to secure a job for judge Gilbert Aziber in Monaco. In return, Sarkozy would receive private information about a probe and a claim that he accepted illegal payments from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his presidential campaign in 2007.
This evidence emerged while the right-wing Sarkozy and his lawyer’s conversations were wiretapped. The wiretapping was conducted due to a similar relation to another investigation into professed Libyan financing of the same campaign. The courts said he was “perfectly informed” carrying out such illegal action. Sarkozy and two of his co-defendants were found guilty and given the same sentence.
Reputation in Peril
Sarkozy has denied any misconduct and claims he has been the victim of a witch-hunt who used outrageous methods to inquire about his affairs. He has 10 days from now to appeal Monday’s ruling. Although Sarkozy has a two-year suspension, it’s most likely that he will not serve any physical time in prison. Usually in France, any real-time served is two years or more.
However, the court has allowed Sarkozy to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet. He faces another trial later this month alongside 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his campaign in 2012. Sarkozy’s lawyers are expected to appeal the ruling. These charges are a major blow to Sarkozy and will ultimately damper any future political ambitions he may possess.
Over the course of Sarkozy’s 5-year term, he had strict policies on immigration, security, and national identity. After he won the presidency at age 52, Sarkozy was seen as a new found symbol of strength and power. Particularly to the international scene and corporate world. Nevertheless, his presidency was eclipsed by the 2008 financial crisis. Sarkozy left office with the lowest popularity ratings, by any leader, since post-war France.
After Sarkozy lost the 2012 presidential election to Socialist Francois Hollande, he vowed that: “You won’t hear about me anymore.” This proved to be incorrect, with his ongoing legal battles and marriage with former model Carla Bruni, that kept him in the public eye.
Sarkozy attempted another run for the presidency in 2016. He tried to hide his high-life lifestyle and claimed to run with the lower to working-class people who were against elites. Although he remained popular on the right, he did not make it past the Les Republican party’s primaries.
With no clear candidate on the right to take on President Emmanuel Macron in 2022, there are rumors that Sarkozy might consider another run for the presidency.