Monday, May 17

The Presidency of France, an institution cracked by corruption and sex scandals


Correspondent in Paris

Updated:

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The highly equivocal moral behavior of four of the last six presidents of the Fifth Republic has cracked the civic matrix of the Head of State, which Nicolas Sarkozy, convicted of crimes of corruption and influence peddling, can aggravate by threatening to denounce the justice of France before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

At the end of the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (VGD, 1974 – 1981), the diamond scandal of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, President of the Central African Republic, relatively tarnished his mandate, but did not have significant repercussions on the functioning of the Head of State.

On the contrary, during the double presidency of François Mitterrand (1981 – 1995) the presidential institution was at the heart of scandals of very unusual gravity.

Mitterrand installed a cell in the Elysee for the espionage of journalists with mafia practices paid with public money. The operation of the sinking of the ecological ship ‘Rainbow Warrior’ was mounted from the Elysee, which cost the life of a press photographer. In the Elysee, the high positions in public companies were appointed temporarily gangrene by corruption. On the Elysee, one of Mitterrand’s presidential advisers committed suicide, Francois de Grossouvre, victim of dark political ‘jealousy’.

Elected president, Mitterrand settled in the Elysee with his wife, Danielle Gouze / Mitterrand, and installed in an annexed palace, two hundred meters away, the longest of his lovers, Anne Pingeot, and his daughter Mazarine, hidden for twenty years. The revelation, in 1994, of this double life, double family, gave the French presidency a long-lasting equivocal ‘glamor’.

First convictions

The presidency of Jacques Chirac (1995 – 2007) was clouded by the noisy saucepans of his scandals as mayor of Paris (1977 – 1995), for which he earned the uncertain glory of being the first head of state sentenced to two years in prison with remission of penalty, accused of corruption and misappropriation of public property.

Installed on the Elysee, Chirac found himself engulfed in dark scandals. Nicolas Sarkozy and large industrialists were accused of evading taxes and trying to manipulate justice for political purposes. On the love comings and goings of the president, his personal chauffeur wrote a memoir featuring a long dozen ladies and gentlemen, from journalists to famous actresses, such as Claudia Cardinale

Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency (2007 – 2012) was marked by a string of scandals that continue its stormy judicial course.

Regardless of suspicions or very diverse convictions (illegal financing of electoral campaigns, illegal wiretapping, influence peddling), Sarkozy’s love life, before ‘settling down’ with his third marriage, with Carla Bruni, it was very rich in adventures: adventure with a famous journalist, nightlife of his second wife … In another area, the ongoing legal proceedings against Sarkozy have provisionally culminated in the conviction of the former president to three years in jail, temporarily replaced by an electronic bracelet, to be controlled by the police night and day. Sarkozy does not accept the sentence and threatens to bring the national justice before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Threat of historical and exceptional gravity.

Lover and minister

After these gruesome antecedents, the scandals of the presidency of Francois Hollande (2012 – 2017) only had a ‘pink’ dimension unprecedented in the history of the Elysee palace.

Hollande settled in the presidential palace accompanied by his official lover, Valerie Trierweiler, a journalist, but coincided during the councils of ministers with his wife, Segolene Royale, mother of her four children.

That ‘atypical’ relationship had begun years ago, when Trierweiler reported on the Hollande – Royale couple, presented as an ideal political family, united in the bed and in the corridors of socialist political power. When Royale decided to present her candidacy for the Republic, defeated by Sarkozy, Hollande discovered the feather bed of Trierweiler’s very cute little apartment. When Hollande was elected president, nothing more normal than to appoint the mother of his children to minister and settle in the Elysee with his lover, in the same rooms where Napoleon III he betrayed his wife, the grenadine Eugenia de Montijo, the last empress of France.

That relationship to three, typical of classic French vaudeville, was enriched a little later, when Hollande confirmed in bed his new love affair with a young film producer, Julie Gayet, installed in an apartment located two hundred meters from the Elysee, where the president lived with Trierweiler and did politics with Royale.

Elected president in 2017, Emmanuel Macron he has not ‘enriched’ the presidential history with any great personal scandal. The next presidential elections are due to be held in the spring of 2022.

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