Conservatives nominate Sarkozy for France’s top job

Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who has called for a mini-treaty to solve Europe’s constitutional deadlock, has won his party’s nomination for the upcoming French presidential elections later this year.

Sarkozy accepted his party’s nomination on 14 January to run against Socialist Segolene Royal, in a ballot to be held on 22 April and 6 May. 

He has won the support of most of his party, including defence minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, a close ally of French President Jacques Chirac, who had suggested she may run against him in the past.

However, incumbent Chirac has yet to offer Sarkozy his support. This leave open the possibility, at least in theory, that he may be considering running for a third term as President.

At meetings in Brussels on 7-8 September, Sarkozy outlined his vision for Europe. Central to his plans is the introduction of a “Mini-Treaty”, which would take up “about two-thirds” of novelties from the Constitution that were “not critical” issues during the failed referenda in France and the Netherlands.

Ideally, Sarkozy would like to see the text adopted during the German EU Presidency in 2007 and ratified during the French Presidency in 2008. Main elements of the “Mini Treaty” include:

  • Election of the Commission president by the European Parliament ;
  • creation of a European minister of foreign affairs ;
  • replacing unanimity by a “super qualified majority”;
  • reinforced cooperation, and;
  • citizen initiatives

Sarkozy further recommended leaving to a later (2009) Convention more sensitive issues such as a reinforced participation of national parliamentarians. For example, the composition of the Commission – one member per country – would not change until 2014, “until when only Bulgaria and Romania will have joined anyway”.

He also suggested more “reinforced cooperation” and a “super qualified” majority, replacing unanimity, for example in tax matters.

On the issue of enlargement, he underlined his preference for a close partnership with Turkey, but remains opposed to its membership. He said “we should develop ties but should not go as far as far as full and total accession”. Sarkozy urged Europe to define its boundaries and its absorption capacity.

His rival, Segolene Royal has focused on her belief that Europe has failed to deliver on social issues (see EURACTIV 17/11/06). However, she has also called for “a short text” that settles “who decides, how we decide and with what institutions we decide.”

The first round of elections will take place on the 22 April, with the second round on the 6 May 2007.

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