Here is a quick update for those of you who haven’t heard of the story yet, if that’s even possible: Jean Sarkozy, 23, repeating his sophomore year at law school in Paris, son of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is due to take the head of EPAD – the public agency in charge of developing La Défense, Europe’s largest business district- 72 employees, budget: €115m. For many years, Nicolas Sarkozy was mayor of Neuilly sur Seine -a town located in the same administrative district as La Défense- and he still has tremendous political connections and influence on this district.
The left cries nepotism. The right is embarrassed. Sarkozist Patrick Devedjian, EPAD’s current boss, unable to stand again for age limit reason, used a beautiful sentence to comment on the nomination, a sentence that comes from another era, when France was not a republic, when destinies were determined right from the birth: “In souls nobly born valour does not depend upon age” Bitterness or black comedy?
In the meantime, the Internet has turned the story into laughing matter. Better to look on the funny side of things? A massive joke contest is taking place on Twitter using the hashtag #jeansarkozypartout (jeansarkozyeverywhere). A group has been created on Facebook “Let little Jean finish his studies!!!”. Another one calls for “Louis Sarkozy to represent France at the United Nations when he finishes primary school”. A group of youngsters have gone to the Elysée palace to formally hand Nicolas Sarkozy a request for adoption.
The right fired back! Isabelle Balkany, Jean Sarkozy’s godmother, and wife of politician Patrick Balkany – a convicted felon, said Jean is the best among them. Sic. They said Jean is being “victimised”. Poor thing. It is “heinous” to hit out at someone in such a way, they added. They even accused Jean’s detractors of jealousy. Then I noticed a change of strategy. They started to do their best at making Jean look more credible. Jean is very experienced: two years as conseiller géneral, member of a district assembly… a position he earned thanks to his father. Jean is a responsible man: he is a married father of one. Jean works hard. He doesn’t have time for studying. He has better things to do. Destiny is calling. The best joke of it all was when Jean appeared on TV, with a totally different look. He used to look like a golden boy with his long blond hair. Suddenly, he had shorter, darker hair, and wore square glasses. Since when does Jean need glasses? Apart from that, he looked exactly like his father, using the same rhetorical tricks and the same body language. It was quite terrifying actually. At the same time his father introduced a new reform of secondary school. He dared say that when Napoléon created secondary school, it meant the end of privileges coming from birth. He added that from then on, what would matter in France, would not be to be “nobly born” but to have worked hard and to have conveyed one’s value through studying. Totally surreal.
But amid the controversy, I was stroke by an article that appeared in Le Monde and left unnoticed. It tells the story of David, a young business school graduate. It is entitled “I was an intern for 14 months and had a 6-month trial period before I got sacked”. David represents his generation. A precarious generation. A generation that was told: «study, my son, that’s how you’ll make it in life», and that ends up, to their parents’ distress, going from one internship to another, from one short-term contract to another, being exploited ever after. What’s shocking about the Jean Sarkozy scandal is that it points out the fact that our generation has been lied to. We were told that by working hard, we would make it. The harsh reality is that what matters is not to earn diplomas, but to be “nobly born”. We thought we were living in a republic. We are still living in a monarchy. The “Sarkozia” embodies this fraud. That is what is actually shocking to French people.
A touch of humour to end this post. If you understand French, I strongly recommend you watch this fantastic piece of humour and poetry, which perfectly describes what life is like in Sarkozia: