For a long time it was a taboo subject. It may have been something that Nicolas Sarkozy’s adversaries on the Right delighted over in private but they refused to discuss it in public for fear of being seen as bad sports. So when these internal opponents spoke of the former head of state in public they spoke briefly about his term of office, praised his energy while regretting that it often bordered on the excessive and highlighted their fundamental policy differences with him, but they never spoke of his judicial travails. No mention of him being placed under formal investigation after phone taps suggested he tried to induce a French judge to pass on confidential information, nor of him being similarly investigated for “illegal” funding of his 2012 election campaign, a scandal known as the Bygmalion affair. Nor was there any mention of the many other political and financial judicial cases in which around 30 of his old allies are currently entangled. All that was strictly kept for off the record comments.Until now. Fifty days before the first round in the Right and centre’s primary election to choose a presidential candidate for 2017, and just two weeks before the first television debate between the candidates, the gloves are finally coming off. It was Sarkozy’s former prime minister, François Fillon, who first shattered the silence on August 28th at a gathering in Sablé-sur-Sarthe in central western France. “Those who don’t respect the Republic’s laws should not be able to stand for election in front of the voters. There’s no point talking about authority when one is not irreproachable oneself. Who can imagine General De Gaulle being placed under investigation?” asked Fillon.
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