Sarkozy leaves Elysee for unsure future

PARIS: Nicolas Sarkozy drove out of the Elysee Palace on Tuesday, unemployed and facing an uncertain future after five years as the hyperactive president of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Having handed over the launch codes for France’s nuclear arsenal and responsibility for the country’s economic crisis, Sarkozy has a month left of judicial immunity before possibly facing criminal investigation, but first he wants to spend time with his family, third wife and former supermodel Carla Bruni and their daughter Giulia, born last year ahead of the fraught presidential race eventually won by his nemesis Francois Hollande.

Friend and aide Franck Louvrier said last week that Sarkozy will “relax with his family,” most likely at his heiress wife’s mansion at Cap Negre on the sunny Cote d’Azur, soon after vacating the Elysee Palace. At 57, Sarkozy is young enough to have years of professional life ahead of him and his aides have said he wants to return to his job of business lawyer that he had before becoming minister.

He still owns a share of Arnaud Claude’s legal practice but Sarkozy’s long-term future remains uncertain after he back-pedalled on statements he was categorically retiring from frontline politics.

In any case he will not be able to make the millions reaped by British former prime minister Tony Blair through after-dinner and motivational speeches around the world, as his English is not good enough.

As a former president, he also has the right to sit on France’s highest constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, although Hollande said during campaigning he might overhaul that “tradition”.

Or Sarkozy could be summoned to testify, once his presidential immunity lapses a month from now on June 15, in a swathe of probes into corruption and campaign financing violations.

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