Sarkozy presidential bid hones in on security and immigration after Islamist attacks


Nicolas Sarkozy announced
on Monday that he would be running for president next year – five years since he was unseated by the
now hugely unpopular President Francois Hollande, whose demise the conservative hopes to profit from.

According to a poll conducted from Ifop last month, key issues for the French population have changed drastically since the last election in 2012. In light of the
Islamist attacks on French soil, which have killed some 230 people since January 2015, security and immigration are now a much bigger priority than unemployment.

In order to combat Islamists, Sarkozy said he would create a special court for “anti-terrorist security.” A similar court was used in 1963 against the OAS, a far-right paramilitary organization that carried out attacks and assassinations in a brief attempt to prevent the independence of Algeria, a former French colony.

French police near Eiffel Tower in Paris

Sarkozy is keen to increase France’s response to Islamist terror attacks

Limited access to French nationality

The former president also indicated in his book that he was in favor of a return to “double punishment” of convicted foreigners – a measure he abolished as president. Such a move could even require a reform of the European Convention of Human Rights.

In response to Europe’s immigration crisis, which has fuelled the rise of far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen in recent months, Sarkozy said he aims to “drastically reduce” the number of foreigners permitted to enter France every year and promised to limit the right to French nationality of children born to immigrants. Economic migration must also stop during the next five-year presidential term, Sarkozy wrote.

By promising to ban the Muslim head scarf from universities and public companies Sarkozy also reaffirmed his image as an avid defender of France’s secular state. The pledge came as France battles through a controversy surrounding the ban on the burkini – a full body swimming costume worn by a handful of Muslim women.

French police near Eiffel Tower in Paris

Sarkozy is keen to increase France’s response to Islamist terror attacks

Longer working week for civil servants

Other issues addressed in Sarkozy’s policies include taxation and labor laws. In his book, published on Wednesday, he proposed an “immediate elimination” of the so-called solidarity tax paid by those who have assets of more than 1.3 million euros.

Income tax would be cut by 10 percent as soon as July 2017. – just two to the months after the election is due to be held.

The conservative also suggested lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16.

Under Sarkozy’s proposed labor laws, the French could expect to see companies determining the working hours of their employees, while the working week for civil servants would increase from 35 to 37 hours.

ksb/rc (Reuters, dpa)