Campaigning French leader Nicolas Sarkozy may be struggling to shed his negative reputation as France’s bling-bling president—but not at any cost. During a glad-handing session at an outdoor rally in central Paris Sunday ahead of voting in France’s presidential elections, Sarkozy was caught on film slipping his beloved Rolex off his wrist and into his pocket—a move French analysts mocked as an effort to prevent any sticky-fingered supporters from lifting the ritzy timepiece.
The move is viewed as doubly ironic by French observers. The watch is often cited as the symbol of Sarkozy’s unabashed (and decried) love of luxury. Allegations that Sarkozy hid it from potential thieves also mock the president’s campaign focus on ruthlessly restoring law and order as he seeks to turn his uphill re-election chances around. Yet as risible as Sarkozy’s slight-of-wrist move may have been, there are good reasons for campaigning French pols to be wary of crooks on the stump. While wading into a crowd at an outing in the 2002 presidential election, centrist candidate François Bayrou gained much attention by meting out a jowl-rattling smack to an adolescent he caught digging through his pockets.
Campaigning isn’t just exhausting; it could wind up costing you something cool.