“British painter and political caricaturist Kaya Mar appeared in front of the French embassy in London's exclusive Knightsbridge on April 12, 2012 to display two of his large oil-on-canvas satirical comments on French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his too-close relationships both with Angela Merkel and also with hostile imperialist US foreign policy in the Middle East,” our contributor says, “as the tide of domestic opinion in the final approaches to the French presidential elections turns ever more hostile towards Nicolas Sarkozy, and his use of German chancellor Angela Merkel to try and boost his popularity ratings as he imposes deeply unpopular and painful German-approved austerity cuts on the French people designed to protect the banks at the expense of, it seems, almost everybody else.
One of Kaya Mar's paintings pokes fun at "Merkozy" - the nickname given to Merkel and Sarkozy's close political alliance - by representing the heavyweight dominance of German political influence in Europe and the relative economic stature of Germany over heavily-indebted France; it portrays Merkel as a large, overweight domineering mother who has just breast-fed her little child "Junior" Sarkozy, who sits on her knee wearing a Napoleonic two-cornered hat and a tricoleur sash.
The second painting - which is more concerned with international public perceptions of Sarkozy as a vain narcissist with a height-complex - portrays Sarkozy on his own as a naked, exposed "Little Napoleon" in very high-heeled boots, wearing a comically large two-cornered hat, and wearing the American stars and stripes flag around him like a Roman toga - the painter's reference to the almost indecent, autocratic, undemocratic haste with which Sarkozy offered the services of French forces to the Americans as they invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in what was perceived by many to be a desperate attempt by Sarkozy to position himself (as did ex-British prime minister Tony Blair) as a "World Player" as the bombs fell.
With only a week to go before the first of possibly two rounds of voting to choose France's next president, and as the political and cultural distance between the aloof elitist Parisiennes and the rest of France gets greater and greater, Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be floundering on the rocks of national opinion, having caused two political storms since February when it was announced that Angela Merkel would be making personal appearances during Sarkozy's campaign rallies - interpreted by many as outright German interference in French domestic politics - and again at the end of March when, after being deluged with criticism for his economic policies and for his subservience to Merkel's economic strategies for dealing with the Euro-Zone crisis, Sarkozy - as Conservatives always seem to do when they face the wrath of voters complaining about failed economic policies which only serve the financial elite - made a sudden lurch to the extreme right in a desperate attempt to woo the extremist vote from Jean-Marie Le Pen's infamous far right-wing National Front party (represented in the elections this year by Le Pen's daughter Marine) and publicly attacked immigrants and foreigners, blaming them for France's economic woes, saying that France "has too many foreigners", and that it was no longer possible to find shelter, work and education for them all, whilst threatening to pull France out of the Schengen Zone of (allegedly) passport-free travel across Europe unless the EU give in to his demands for stricter controls on immigration.
Sarkozy's opponents counter-claim that the real issue is his disastrous stewardship of the French economy and his excessively harsh "austerity" cuts which have already seen massive cutbacks in public spending and have caused high unemployment, with much worse to come.
The most recent poll shows that Nicolas Sarkozy is the most unpopular French president to stand for re-election in the history of the French Republic, with a popularity rating of only 36%, despite several publicity stunts pulled by Sarkozy who can't seem to do right for doing wrong.
With 2.86 million people unemployed and French economic growth slowing to a feeble 0.2% in the last quarter prompting many large French companies to sack large numbers of employees as France lost its Triple-A credit rating, Sarkozy's greatest political rival, Socialist Party and Left Radical Party candidate François Hollande - who looks likely to walk away with the presidency thanks to an emerging 'anyone but Sarkozy' attitude amongst young French voters both domestically and in ex-patriate communities worldwide including the 400,000 living in Britain - plans to overturn many of Sarkozy's punitive policies and embark instead on a campaign of mass job-creation to get as many French citizens and immigrants as possible back into work which will kick-start the economy again as people become economically active and vital tax revenue begins to flow once more into the coffers.
Hollande's policy manifesto - released in January and thought by many to be unachievable - details some 60 propositions including the separation of retail activities from riskier investment-banking businesses, raising taxes for big corporations, banks and the wealthy, creating 60,000 teaching jobs, bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62, creating subsidized jobs in areas of high unemployment for the young, promoting more industry in France by creating a public investment bank, granting marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, and pulling French troops out of Afghanistan in 2012."