Nicholas Sarkozy kicked off his long-expected re-election bid Wednesday with a new Web site, Facebook profile and Twitter account as well as a defiant televised address pledging an aggressive campaign against his main rival, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. It’s the Facebook profile, though, that’s got people talking the most — though it might not be the type of conversation the president wants.
Sarkozy is the first French presidential candiate to use the Timeline, an autobiographical feature that provides historical photos and information as a scrapbook of personal history. Sarkozy’s profile has pictures of his childhood and early political career, but what it lacks has some analysts calling foul.
Absent from his profile are many of the controversial moments in his career that clouded previous campaigns, including all mention of his ex-wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz.
“Gone is all mention of a controversial 2007 state visit from then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as well as a notorious Dakar speech in July 2007 in which he asserted that “the African man has never really entered history. Also missing are his more controversial outbursts, including a 2006 promise to ‘sand-blast’ France’s restive suburbs, and a vulgar and widely publicised comment at a 2008 agricultural show when he told a heckler ‘casse toi pauvre con,’ which essentially means ‘get lost jerk’ in the mildest of translations,” reported France 24.
Some have accused Facebook of giving Sarkozy an unfair advantage by curating his Timeline to avoid mention of potentially unsavory details. The main opposition Socialist Party’s digital campaign manager directly charged the company of taking sides in an e-mail obtained by L’Express.
Facebook denies all charges of partisan behavior, saying, “We are regularly in contact with numerous public figures, including politicians, for information and advice on how to use our products and services.We give them that help but we remain completely impartial.”
But Sarkozy has larger problems to face in his re-election bid than his Facebook page. As Edward Cody reported Wednesday:
“The economic slowdown and how to reverse it are French voters’ main worries — and Sarkozy’s main handicap as he heads into the next three months. As a result of the need to cut back deficits, the French economy under his stewardship has ground to a halt, and unemployment has shot up to nearly 10 percent.”
“ The latest survey, released Tuesday by Ifop-Fiducial for Paris Match magazine, showed Hollande with 30 percent and Sarkozy with 25 percent in the first round and Holland with an overwhelming 57.5 percent to Sarkozy’s 42.5 percent in the runoff round.”
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