- By Kedar PavgiKedar Pavgi is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a tough reelection campaign as he struggles to contain the unraveling economic situation within the E.U. His opponent, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is leading in the polls. So who should Sarko call to help him out in his campaign? Why, none other than his good friend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Over the weekend, Hermann Gröhe, the general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) announced that Merkel would appear at campaign events with Sarkozy as he looks to retain his place in L’Elysee. From the Global Post:
"France needs a strong president at its head, and…The UMP and France are in good hands with Nicolas Sarkozy, who has demonstrated foresight," Gröhe said, according to Le Figaro.
Merkel’s announcement caught Paris by surprise, least of all because Sarkozy has yet to officially declare his candidacy, Business Insider reported.
The close relationship between "Merkozy" has been well documented, and the two have been at center stage to contain the ongoing debt crisis. Of course, this new arrangement hasn’t gone without raising a few eyebrows. In an interview reported by the Wall Street Journal, Sarkozy seemed more embarrassed by the announcement, and questioned if Merkel "voted in France." Though, as the AFP reported, Sarkozy did support Merkel back in 2009 during her own successful reelection campaign.
While the announcement may have caused some talk amongst the chattering classes in Europe, having foreign leaders interject themselves into political campaigns is nothing new. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had the very vocal backing of then-Ukrainian presidential candidate Victor Yanukovich in 2004. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ took it upon himself to comment on the 2006 Peruvian election, and the recent election of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
Merkel is an accomplished leader, but she is far from the "hyper-president" that Sarkozy is, and certainly not the type of campaigner that the French electorate are used to. Perhaps she could take a page out of the Herman Cain playbook and use a Pokemon quote in a speech.