Sarkozy’s Political Leadership and the Institutions of the Fifth Republic

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


At the end of his only five-year term in presidential office, what do we really know about Nicolas Sarkozy, the sixth President of the Fifth Republic? What was the personal contribution of this atypical individual to the collective experience of French Presidents since 1958? Did the five-year Sarkozy period challenge our traditional readings of the French presidential office? Indeed, does the French presidency as an office still exercise the state capacities that justified such academic attention in previous decades? To elucidate successfully Sarkozy’s political practice requires an understanding of the dynamics of political leadership, both in general terms and adapted to the specific context of the Fifth Republic and its constitution (Gaffney, 2010). Most models of political leadership involve some combination of the personal qualities of leaders, their positional strengths and weaknesses, and the wider environmental and cultural constraints and opportunities that help shape their political leadership (Cole, 1997). Logically, the model favours three levels of analysis; the individual, the office, the environment. This chapter evaluates the political institution of the French presidency under Sarkozy by referring to this multi-dimensional framework of analysis. The main argument is that Nicolas Sarkozy over-invested the presidential office with a personal governing style that was widely deemed — by public opinion, as well as elites — to be inappropriate given the role expectations of the French presidency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sarkozy Presidency
Subtitle of host publicationBreaking the Mould?
EditorsGino G. Raymond
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781137025326
ISBN (Print)9781349438884, 9781137025319
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameFrench Politics, Society and Culture Series

User-Defined Keywords

  • Prime Minister
  • Political Leadership
  • Presidential Election
  • Pension Reform
  • Domestic Politics


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