Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Malawi: HIV-infected man paid to have sex with girls arrested

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

Meet Omar, the 10-year-old chef who became a social media star

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gigantic snails are a delicacy in Ivory Coast

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

La vie en gris: The story behind France's famed rooftops

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Olympic refugee team goes for gold

Read more

FOCUS

Taiwan's nuclear dumping ground

Read more

ENCORE!

Greece: Creativity in a time of crisis

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French growth grinds to a halt over strikes

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Norway will 'move mountains' for Nordic neighbour Finland

Read more

France

‘Extras’ bussed in for Sarkozy publicity stunt

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-02-03

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a visit to a social housing building site Thursday to highlight his work on this key election issue - but according to builders at the site, many of the ‘workers’ Sarkozy met on the tour had been bussed in.

Bemused builders on Friday accused President Nicolas Sarkozy’s aides of bussing in fake ‘workers’ to make the embattled French leader look more popular during a visit to a social housing project, according to Europe 1 radio.

The building site, in the Essone administrative region southwest of Paris, is being developed into 130 affordable homes and illustrates a key issue in the run up to the May’s presidential election: the soaring cost of housing in the capital and surrounding area.

And Sarkozy certainly got plenty of attention.

“They wanted the president to be surrounded by as many people as possible,” said one manager, who added that the president’s aides had asked his bosses to double the number of workers present on the day from the usual 60 to 120.

One builder told Europe 1 he suspected that managers of other building firms from across the region had been cajoled into sending their employees along.

'Look busy'

“I recognised people from other sites,” he said, while a colleague added that suppliers, partners, site managers as well as complete strangers seemed to be milling around.
Everyone was told to “look busy”, they said, despite the freezing temperatures that would normally have stopped work.

When pressed by Europe 1, a spokesman for the Elysée Palace did not deny that there had been a supplementary contingent at the site during Thursday’s visit.

However, the spokesman argued that this was to give “everyone who has worked on this site, or might potentially work there in the future, the chance to come along.”

Bizarrely, construction firm 3F said in a statement on Friday that it “categorically denied” that any extras had been drafted in for the presidential visit, insisting that “the regular workforce of 67 was there as well as management staff of other companies involved in the project.”

Sarkozy, who is lagging behind Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls, has yet to announce his candidacy for May’s presidential election.

Staying on-message, he told the assembled “workers”, all wearing heavy-duty overalls and hard hats, that “France has no choice but to make housing more affordable for ordinary people.”

But when somebody butted in with the question “so are you going to be a candidate or not?” Sarkozy replied, “Is this on camera or isn't it? I think you get what I mean.”

Date created : 2012-02-03

  • FINANCE

    French bankers back British PM’s Tobin tax jibe

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Critics pound on Sarkozy's plans for French economy

    Read more

  • FRENCH POLITICS

    Sarkozy confession to press sets rumour mill spinning

    Read more

COMMENT(S)