As if dragged reluctantly into the social media era, French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened a Twitter account nine hours ago, marking perhaps the most notable recent event in his struggling bid for reelection this year.
The French president, who gained his first 1,000 followers in 15 minutes, wrote in his first post: “Hello to all, I am very happy today to launch my #Twitter account. Thanks to all those who kindly will follow me! – NS”
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In a sign of the perils of the Twitter era, the first reply to the unpopular president was a negative one from user @07keiler, who wrote: “I am following you, I am listening to you, but in the voting booth no longer, having been disappointed by your un-kept pre-electoral promises.”
By 6 p.m. Paris time, Sarkozy had almost 43,000 followers. (But he trailed his main rival, the Socialist François Hollande, who has more than 150,000.)
Sarkozy, who has promised to quit politics if not reelected, has trailed Hollande in recent polls and is blamed by many for France’s current economic woes. He has yet officially to announce his candidacy for president.
The Associated Press said today that Sarkozy’s reelection effort is a poorly kept secret, citing media reports that his campaign headquarters were already functioning with about a dozen presidential staffers ready to move in.
Citing polls by the agency IFOP, the AP said Sarkozy’s biggest decline in popularity had occurred before the global financial and euro debt crises, sliding from 67 percent in July 2007 to 41 percent in March 2008. Sarkozy has suffered criticism due to rising prices, awarding himself a pay raise, and installing opulent additions to the Elysée Palace that have been seen as gaudy and un-French.
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The first round of voting in the French elections begins on April 22.