Sarkozy's son elected to board of influential agency
The morning after Jean Sarkozy renounced his controversial bid to head an influential public agency that oversees Paris's business district, the 23-year-old son of French President Nicolas Sarkozy was instead elected to its board.
Jean Sarkozy was elected to the board of an agency that oversees Paris’s wealthy business district on Friday, hours after the 23-year-old son of French President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped his bid to head the agency following an acrimonious nepotism row.
Sarkozy was elected to the board of EPAD, a government agency that oversees the French capital’s wealthy La Defense business district the morning after announcing that he would no longer seek to head the influential agency during a primetime TV interview Thursday.
Reporting from the Parisian suburb of Nanterre Friday, where the vote was held, FRANCE 24’s Cyril Vanier said Sarkozy’s election to the EPAD board came as no surprise. “He was a shoo-in and this election was a foregone conclusion,” said Vanier. “There are 45 elected members that sit on the departmental council, 30 of them belong to the ruling UMP party or an affiliated party and they were bound to vote for him.”
The vote came the morning after Sarkozy told a French TV station he was dropping his bid for EPAD chief since he did not want any victory “to be tainted by suspicion”. In an interview with France 2, Sarkozy added that he would not accept “being suspected of favouritism."
Sarkozy instead opted to seek election to the EPAD board.
EPAD is the influential agency that runs La Defense, a commercial district that is home to 2,500 head offices, including some of France’s largest business conglomerates such as Total and Societe Generale bank.
‘The sacrifice of the son’
Newspapers across France on Friday led with the sensational news of Sarkozy’s “renunciation” with the front page headline of left wing paper Liberation proclaiming, “The sacrifice of the son”.
Jean Sarkozy’s bid to run for EPAD head sparked howls of protest not only from France’s opposition Socialists, but also from some members of his father’s ruling UMP party.
A poll last week by a top French polling institute found that two-thirds of French people disapproved of Sarkozy’s candidature, with several denouncing the nepotism, which critics have characterised as more befitting a “banana republic” than a European democracy.
The controversy also sparked a long-standing French national debate about French meritocracy, particularly in the country’s public service, with the press dubbing Sarkozy, “Prince Jean”.
‘Lost the battle, not the war’
The morning after Sarkozy announced his decision to drop his bid, some French political analysts said they were not impressed by the recent move.
“He renounced his bid, but he hasn’t given up his political ambitions,” wrote columnist Olivier Picard in the daily, Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace. “At no point did he appear to have the slightest doubt about the crux of the issue, which is his capacity, his legitimacy and his ability to competently do the job.”
The current row was sparked when Sarkozy set his sights on the EAPD chief post after 65-year-old Patrick Devedjian, a political ally of his father, reached the mandatory retirement age.