Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 10/20/2011

Moammar Gaddafi’s death: Could it boost Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls?

Nicolas Sarkozy has had a big week.

A Libyan woman has scrawled the words "Thank you England" and "Thank you France" on her hands. (Philippe Wojazer - AP)
On Wednesday, the French president’s wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl. The same day, 200 of France’s troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan as part of a plan to pull out 1,000 troops by the end of next year.

And today, the icing on the cake. With reports that ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is dead comes the end of a conflict at times called “Sarkozy’s war.” The question now becomes: Will Gaddafi’s apparent death help the French president’s poll numbers leading up to the 2012 election?

Sarkozy certainly could use the boost. Recent opinion polls show the president has lost much of the widespread approval he had when elected in 2007, and is running well behind his Socialist challengers.

French citizens say they are unhappy with Sarkozy for the continued high unemployment, rising prices and government austerity measures, as well as allegations of corruption that the president vehemently denies.

The Libyan conflict is already seen as having benefitted the leader, in large part because it helped people forget France’s inaction when the Arab Spring first began. It also proved Sarkozy as a leader on the world stage.

But other voters say Sarkozy has been too focused on Libya when things are not going very well back home In the last month, Sarkozy was less active on Libya as he watch his approval ratings fall.

The result of Gaddafi’s death for Sarkozy, may be similar to what The Post’s Chris Cilizza has predicted it will be for U.S. President Obama: a victory the leader can call a foreign policy success, but “unlikely to seriously affect his political fortunes heading into a 2012 campaign still laser-focused on the struggling ...economy.”

With the French election just six months away, pollsters say the election will be about the economy, the economy, the economy.

But the BBC reports that in Gaddafi’s death, “restoring a bit of French international pride can’t do Mr. Sarkozy any harm.”

By  |  12:45 PM ET, 10/20/2011

Tags:  World, Nicolas Sarkozy, Libya, French elections

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