Nicholas Sarkozy’s latest campaign rally in the south-eastern town of Saint-Raphaël (Var) was a vintage Sarko performance marked by sharp and well directed attacks on his socialist opponents, sneering remarks about immigrants and lurid claims about phantom threats to the French ‘way of life’.
In this election, Sarkozy often seems to be running against his own record rather than against François Hollande. When it comes to immigration, ‘the whole system is blocked up,’ fumed the president, ‘because when one welcomes too many, one welcomes badly and integration doesn’t take place.’ Don’t ask how he keeps a straight face when he says these things – not even he could manage that – instead he hides behind a series of smirks and facial tics.
Once the president’s supporters had finished chanting their patriotic slogans and sung the Marseillaise, they went outside to watch Sarkozy’s motorcade sweep off. So these largely well-heeled scourges of immigrants everywhere won’t have seen the hall returned to the care of an army of cleaning staff ready to work into the night – every single one of them of foreign origin.