Former President Nicolas Sarkozy has just been booted from the Constitutional Council of France—the most important constitutional body in the country—for campaign finance violations. After some deliberation, the Council upheld a ruling that Sarkozy overspent allowed limits in the 2012 elections, and that his UMP party therefore owes more than €500,000 to the government. Sarkozy stepped down once the decision was made, but as the FT reports, this spells trouble for his party as well:
The sums are potentially devastating for the UMP as it attempts to rebuild following Mr Sarkozy’s defeat. The party was already facing a big drop in its state funding, from €33m to €20m, because of its poor performance in last year’s parliamentary elections, the AFP news agency reported.
This decision will put his party in an even deeper financial hole and will make it more difficult for the UMP to capitalize on the serious unpopularity of the Hollande government in the next election. For Sarkozy, the rebuke by a senior French institution is an even larger blow, suggesting that the rest of the country’s elite wants him out of the club.
But the worst may be yet to come for Sarkozy. The former President has already been under investigation over accusations that Muammar Qaddafi provided serious funding for his initial run in 2007. These accusations are still unproven, but they come from a well-respected source that has gotten a number of big scandals right. If they turn out to be correct, they will be far more damaging than campaign finance violations.
[Sarkozy image courtesy of א (Aleph) / Wikimedia Commons]