Sunday, May 29, 2011

LUNCH AT ELYSÉE: SARKOZY'S HIGH-BROW CHARM OFFENSIVE French President Nicolas Sarkozy is stuck with an approval rating below 30 percent. Will his weekly lunches with the cream of Paris “civil society” help change his image?

PARIS - Last Wednesday, French President Nicolas
Sarkozy had a lunch date
scheduled with a journalist and two writers. Up until that
morning, the guests, political
chronicler Eric Zemmour, writer Denis Tillinac and
novelist Yann Moix, had
imagined that between
military intervention in Libya
and the rise of the far right in
local French elections, the president would be too busy to
attend. But Sarkozy arrived on
time, relaxed, smiling, and
even informal, “as if we were meeting in a restaurant,” said Tillinac. Over the last six months, the
president has regularly met
with writers, intellectuals and
artists, never once cancelling
one of these dates. It’s his time to relax and unplug. These
meetings are a chance for
Sarkozy to seduce those who
arrive imagining him
uncultured, but come away
praising his “youthfulness”, “energy” and “simplicity”. They are Sarkozy’s way of penetrating the Paris elite that
hold their nose up to his
controversial politics, but
continue to watch him with
interest and curiosity. Patrick Besson, writer and
chronicler from the weekly
news magazine Le Point, who
was one of the guests a few
weeks ago, amusingly sums up
these moments of presidential recreation: “I had felt like I was his gym instructor,
without the gym ”. Last Wednesday, the three
guests were also joined by
former politician Alain
Carignon, who despite
spending several years of
political scandal and prison, has remained a close friend of
the head of state. It is Carignon, alongside
presidential advisor and
former journalist Catherine
Pégard, who has been
responsible these past few
months for bringing this slice of Paris, regarded by those in
power as representative of
“civil society”, to the presidential Elysée palace.
Pégard, keen to get an eclectic
mix of guests, has invited
authors like Marc Dugain,
Alexandre Jardin, Dominique
Bona, as well as François- Guillaume Lorrain the cinema
critic for the weekly
newspaper Le Point, and
historian Evelyne Lever.

No comments:

Post a Comment