terça-feira, 3 de novembro de 2015
Return of the Sarko-cop
Return of the Sarko-cop
Nicolas Sarkozy promises voters a full-scale crackdown on crime and weak sentencing.
By NICHOLAS VINOCUR 11/3/15, 9:12 PM CET
PARIS — Nicolas Sarkozy sought Tuesday to revive an image he first cultivated more than a decade ago when, as a middling politician, he used his nomination as French interior minister to impose himself as the nation’s top cop and played the role with so much gusto it ultimately landed him the presidency in 2007.
Sarkozy hopes he can resurrect that tough-guy, law-and-order version of himself as he fights for his party’s nomination to run for re-election in 2017. The conservative chief of the Républicains party laid out a series of searing proposals on security and policing ranging from a “shoot-first” policy for police to a law punishing anyone who visits a jihad-themed website.
While the proposals were made in the name of the party, they appeared designed to speak to Sarkozy’s perceived strengths as a figure of authority. The 60-year-old is banking on his hard-liner reputation to distinguish him from the softer-seeming Alain Juppé, his main rival in the race for his party’s nomination, but also from Socialist President François Hollande, whom he accuses of weakness, and far-right chief Marine Le Pen.
“We want to put an end to the systematic flouting of the state’s authority,” Sarkozy said at the Républicains’ headquarters in Paris. “Everything appears to suggest that the state is disappearing, that the Republic is progressively letting itself go, that the French are being increasingly left to their own devices.”
In an hour-long speech, Sarkozy depicted France as a country which had been given over to armed criminals, in which police were outgunned by increasingly brazen gang members, and in which Islamist terrorism was proliferating unchecked by a laxist justice system.
Among other measures, Sarkozy called for equipping some 20,000 municipal police officers with firearms (currently they only get guns if their mayor makes a special request to central authorities); letting police shoot first at armed criminals rather than having to wait until the suspect fires their weapon, as is currently the rule; expanding an overcrowded prison system to accommodate 10,000 more inmates; making jail-time mandatory for anyone convicted of a crime punished by more than six months in prison; and building permanent police bases inside 120 of the country’s toughest neighborhoods.
“There can no longer be areas of our Republic that are off-limits,” Sarkozy said.
With regional elections now a month away, Sarkozy is playing his strongest card against Hollande’s government at a moment of vulnerability for the Socialist leader.
Earlier this month, police angry over lax sentencing rallied outside of the Justice Ministry in Paris and courthouses across the country to voice anger at a government. At the same time, lawyers and penitentiary workers went on strike asking for improved compensation.
The protests were perfectly timed for Sarkozy, whom a BVA poll published this week by Le Parisien showed beating Juppé and all other rivals in the race for his party’s nomination. The Républicains chief is trying to press his advantage through the December 6 regional elections, which could strengthen his standing if his party performs well against the Socialists and Le Pen’s National Front.
Tuesday’s speech was larded with verbal attacks on Hollande and his justice minister, Christiane Taubira, an advocate of more relaxed sentencing rules who has become a lightning rod for right-wing criticism.
In a signal that Sarkozy plans to make full use of a powerful network in the law-and-order community, Le Monde reported this week that he had surrounded himself with aides who come from the world of police. His current chief of staff, Michel Gaudin, was Paris’ police prefect for five years until 2012, while the Républicain party’s director, Frederic Péchenard, was formerly the head of national police.