Childhood & Early Life
Nicolas Sarkozy was born as Nicolas Paul Stephane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa to Greek and Hungarian immigrant parents. His father, Pal Istvan Erno Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa, abandoned the family when Nicolas was a toddler.
Raised as a Catholic by his grandparents, Nicolas’ paternal grandfather influenced his personality and shaped much of what he was. It was the absence of his father and the feeling of being inferior to wealthier classmates that caused much resentment to him as a child.
Academically mediocre, he attended a private Catholic school, Cours Saint-Louis de Monceau. In 1973, obtaining his baccalaureat, he enrolled at the Universite Paris X Nanterre. He secured an MA and later a DEA degree, specializing in private and business law.
It was while at the university that he got involved in politics. An arch supporter of right-wing student organization, he participated actively in the activities of the organisation.
Continue Reading Below
His political career started young, as he became the municipal councillor of the Neuilly-sur Seine area when he was 23. Upon the death of Mayor Achille Peretti, he was promoted to the latter’s office. He served as the Mayor for about two decades, from 1983 until 2002.
Meanwhile, he was elected as a deputy in the National Assembly in 1988. From 1993 until 1995, he served as the Minister for the Budget for Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.
In 1995 presidential elections, Sarkozy supported Edouard Balladur against Jacques Chirac. Chirac won the elections and as a result Sarkozy lost his position as Minister for the Budget.
Post two years of hiatus he returned to action—after the right-wing defeat at the 1997 parliamentary election—as the number two candidate of the Rally for the Republic (RPR).
In 1999, he became the leade of the RPR but in the European Parliament elections held that year his party performed badly and as a result Sarkozy lost the RPR leadership.
His political career was revived under the leadership of Jacques Chirac in 2002, when he was made a Cabinet Minister and given the profile of Minister of Interior. Two years later, in the cabinet reshuffling, he was appointed as Minister of Finance.
Later in 2004, he gave up the newly-assigned Finance Ministry to serve as the leader of UMP, a position which he won after fortifying 85% votes in his favour. Following year, he was re-elected to serve in the National Assembly.
In 2005, he was appointed as Minister of Interior in the Dominique Villepin government. His term in office was a controversial one. He sought to lessen the tension prevalent between the French and the Muslim community. It was also during his reign that the Paris riots occurred.
As the leader of the UMP, he voiced out loud his opinion which insisted on bringing about radical changes in France’s social and economic policies. He called out for fair taxation policies, reduction in budget deficit and lessened support to willingly unemployed people.
Continue Reading Below
In the 2007 presidential elections, he was chosen as the preferred candidate from the UMP for the seat of the Presidency. Running against Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, he won in the second round, attaining 53% votes in his favour.
He was crowned to the prestigious position of the President on May 6, 2007. With this, he became the 23rd President of France.
Officially, he assumed the office on May 16, 2007. His cabinet comprised of 15 Ministers and 16 Deputy Ministers. While at the office, he concentrated on foreign policies and aimed to strengthen the relationship of France with other countries.
In his new position, he first began to resolve the tension between France and Columbian President �lvaro Uribe and the left-wing guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia with an aim to release hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt.
In July 2007, he announced that France, along with other European nations, had successfully obtained the release of six Bulgarians nurses who had been detained in Libya for eight years, in exchange of signing a security, health-care and immigration deal with Muammar Gaddafi. However, this move earned him criticism from opposition leaders.
As against his foreign policies, he was highly lauded for his environmental strategies. It was at the 33rd G8 summit that he announced the objective of reducing French CO2 emission by 50% by 2050.
In marked departure from his predecessors who paid little emphasis on domestic issues, the primary domain of the Prime Minister, he focussed on the domestic front and came up with innovative and promised reforms. He reduced taxes with an aim to enhance GDP and also enacted TEPA law.
It was during his regime that the immigration department came under strict vigilance as a new program, called Parafes, was established under which every traveller had to record his/her fingerprints at airports. This database would be directly connected to the criminal justice and national security databases thus helping them locate criminal and unwanted travellers.
The Bastille Day tradition which had been started by Napolean in 1802 came to a shocking halt, as he opposed the pardoning of sentence followed by liberation of some prisoners from jail, which was a customary practice of the day.
Continue Reading Below
In 2008, he brought about constitutional reforms which introduced a two-term limit of Presidency and the end of president’s right for collective pardon. He also formed agendas that ended governmental control over parliament committee system.
The economic policy also underwent major changes as he relaxed the work hour regulation and made hours worked after the traditional French 35-hour week tax-free. The financial crises of 2008 led to his announcement of the end of the dictatorship of the market and laissez-faire capitalism.
In 2009, he joined hands with Egyptian ex-President Hosni Mubarak, to bring up a plan which called for ceasefire along the Gaza Strip. The plan was welcomed by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice who claimed that the move would bring forth real security.
In 2011, he was among the first Heads of State to demand the resignation of Muammar Gaddafi and imposed military intervention in Libya. He also levied a no-fly zone and promised French military assistance to Libyan National Transitional Council. The move earned him support from all including political groups.
In the presidential elections held the following year in 2012, he was among the ten candidates who won in the first round of voting. However, subsequently, he lost to Socialist leader, Francois Hollande who won by 51.62% against his 48.38%.
Interestingly, he did not take his defeat negatively and instead supported Fancois Hollande’s appointment. He stepped down from the chair of the President officially on May 15, 2012.