Some people believe they are destined for greatness. These perennial winners know no doubt, they are brought up to believe in themselves. Others want social revenge. But there is none of this in the way Sarkozy conquered and exercises power. The obstinate energy, the inability to delegate typical of someone who has fought for supreme office are both produced by flight. Nicolas Sarkozy strives to climb ever higher because he is afraid. Afraid of not being loved. Afraid of being abandoned. Afraid of not being respected. Nicolas Sarkozy wants power for his own reassurance. He is incapable of sharing power, not out of authoritarianism but for fear of being betrayed.
This quest dates back to a childhood Grail, bafflement at his father’s abandonment, terror that he was not his mother’s favourite. In order to catch and keep the maternal attention he craves, he imagines that his position can restore his divorced, rejected mother’s honour. Being President of the Republic means being the best, no longer the butt of jokes. The condescending stares he knew as a child have to give way to expressions of fear. This quest has no ideology but just one aim: winning. The rest is just a question of seduction. Seducing in order to conquer. Seducing in order to stand his ground. At the expense of hiding who he really is. He seems confident, but is in fact anxious. He appears to improvise but has an astonishing memory and has explored every hypothesis. He advocates change but actually loathes it. He makes endless reforms simply to move the goalposts for his adversaries. He is perceived as modern when he is nostalgic. He is seen as modest but is a chameleon: familiar with the workforce, showy with the rich, authoritarian with leaders.
To him, power is the conclusion of a battle not a fulfillment in itself. Particularly when he turns out to be not as peaceful as he himself thought. Will his fear of letting his country down prove stronger than the fear that has been driving him all along?
Like his excesses, Sarkozy himself has recently been subjected to minute political analysis and every sort of lampooning. This is neither a caricature nor an investigation into the President, but a psychological analysis of the man. A man bandaging up his wounds, papering over his flaws, smothering his own fears thanks to the power he exercises. As people start thinking about the 2012 elections, it is time to ask whether this man, who has been running France for three years, is there for the right reasons.
Marie-Ève Malouines has worked as a journalist since 1985 and has run the political department of France Info since 2004. She presents a daily interview for them at 6.40 pm and co-presents the weekly “Questions d’info” on the Parliamentary Channel. She has written three other books, Deux hommes pour un fauteuil, chronique de la cohabitation 1997-2001 (Fayard, 2001), La madone et le culbuto, ou l’inlassable ambition de Ségolène Royal et François Hollande co-written with Carl Méeus (Fayard, 2006), and Ségolène Royal, l’insoumise (Fayard, 2007)
Cette quête relève d’un Graal d’enfant, l’incompréhension face à l’abandon du père, la peur de ne pas être le préféré de la mère. Pour capter et conserver cette attention maternelle, il imagine pouvoir, par sa fonction, reconquérir l’honneur de sa mère, divorcée et méprisée. Être président de la République, c’est être le plus fort. C’est ne plus être moqué. Aux regards condescendants de l’enfance doivent se substituer des regards de crainte. Cette quête ne connaît pas d’idéologie, elle n’a qu’un but : gagner. Le reste n’est qu’affaire de séduction. Séduire pour conquérir. Séduire pour durer. Quitte à cacher sa vraie nature. On le croit sûr de lui, c’est un inquiet. Il paraît improviser, en fait cet hypermnésique a travaillé toutes les hypothèses. Il prône la rupture, mais en réalité, il déteste le changement. Il multiplie les réformes, pour n’offrir que des cibles mouvantes à ses adversaires. On le croit moderne, il est nostalgique. On le croit modeste, c’est un caméléon. Familier avec l’ouvrier, bling bling avec les riches, autoritaire avec les patrons.
Pour lui, le pouvoir est l’aboutissement d’un combat, pas une plénitude. Surtout quand il se révèle moins apaisant qu’il l’imaginait. La peur de décevoir un pays sera-t-elle plus forte que celle qui le fait courir depuis toujours ?