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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 12. Nicolas Sarkozy

Mr Bruni.

Before the disgrace of the Socialist presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn in May, the odds on Nicolas Sarkozy winning a second term as French president were long and lengthening. His poll numbers were in the doldrums. And his appointment in March of a rival, Alain Juppé, as foreign minister was an admission of weakness that led commentators to question whether Juppé might not run as the candidate of the right in 2012 in Sarkozy's place. In the past six months, however, things have changed: the president's personal ratings began to climb after the announcement that his wife, Carla Bruni, was pregnant, and he appears to be benefiting from the enthusiasm with which he pitched France into Nato's successful intervention in Libya. With the Socialist primary too close to call, it would be reckless to bet against Sarkozy occupying the Élysée Palace again this time next year.

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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter