May 2002 bombing outside the Sheraton in Karachi, Pakistan: not the work of Islamic terrorists after all
Last Sunday's Senatorial elections in France were a gripping and telling sign of the public opinion of President Sarkozy's policies and the definite desire for a change of government. Never before, since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958, has the control of the Senate gone to the Left Wing Socialist Party. Clearly, it is high time for the Sarkozy administration, which leans towards the Center Right, to read between the lines.

There are several facets on the political, economical and social levels of the implication of what the election results indicate about public discontentment with Sarkozy and his policies.

To begin with, it seems that here is a president who, rather than bring social unity and coherence in a country whose population is one-fifth of ethnic origin, appears to create more of an ethnic divide. This is particularly true of the Sarkozy relationship with the Muslim population in France, of whom there are 6 million and with whom Sarkozy has not only never tried to establish ties but rather isolated and alienated them. The recent ban on veils and prayers on the street is a potent example.

Granted France is a secular country, but those issues are very far from being what ails France today and what very well may cause the president his re-election. What is striking here is that with all of France's profound woes, why these issues even come up in Parliamentary discussions. While veils and prayers being held on the street may be an eyesore to some, they pose absolutely no threat or danger to French society.

Could these ploys possibly have been a cover-up, a "throwing of dust in the eyes of the public" so to speak, for much more serious issues? As luck would have it, Sarkozy is faced with many more grave issues and that too, only seven months before the French presidential elections are to be held.

Some fingers have pointed towards Sarkozy for the entire Dominique Strauss-Kahn (also known in France as DSK) fiasco, since polls had indicated that DSK was bound to win the presidential elections next year by far. The fact that the owners of the hotel Sofitel, in which the fiasco occurred, are friends of Mr. Sarkozy's does not help. There are also the suspicions of DSK himself that some type of foul play was most likely to occur involving him due to his strong chances of winning the elections, a suspicion that he has apparently even confronted the president with. Of course, this can be brushed off as a conspiracy theory and speculation. But, there's more.

Recently, Sarkozy's re-election battle has been seriously overshadowed by a major corruption scandal involving two of his closest friends, who are currently under investigation for allegedly receiving kickbacks for arms sales to Pakistan, an issue more commonly known now as the "Karachi Affair." It is worth it to mention that this is the biggest corruption scandal in France since the Second World War.

Stories of illegal party funding, suitcases stuffed with banknotes and the killing of 15 people in a bomb attack in Pakistan in 2002, which French judges now believe to be a retaliation attack over unpaid government bribes, are all beginning to crop up and cannot be brushed off as conspiracy theories!

The story gets even better. Former President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin are currently under investigation for corruption charges involving kickbacks from African leaders to fund their election campaigns. A Chirac advisor claims that Sarkozy also benefited from these kickbacks.

For those such as myself, who thought that such blatant acts of corruption and money laundering were a unique trademark of Third World countries, this is a tremendous eye-opener, to say the least!

If this is not enough to question the integrity and trustworthiness of the highest official in France, add to it the social and economic problems which the French are faced with today. French voters are concerned about their economic prospects, unemployment remains increasingly high, there is a European debt crisis, a failing Euro, and National Health insurance funds are being reduced increasingly, just to name a few.

To a French voter, it may almost seem surreal to the point at which their concerns have been completely put on the backburner. For the first time also, France has engaged in not one but three wars: the Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and Libya with French planes attacking Colonel Gaddafi's troops. Contrary to public support, Mr. Sarkozy was the biggest supporter of increased military action. One cannot help but be reminded of the Bush era during the invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Sarkozy is perhaps the most unpopular President in French history. He is at an historical low in opinion polls and some tend to believe that these military, and perhaps social, almost extreme right leaning tendencies, are a sign to demonstrate his patriotism, conveniently before the elections.

Only time will tell who the next leader of France will be, but the point that I would like to make is that, most certainly, there may be valid reasons to not want Mr. Sarkozy's re-election. Who sits at the presidency of a leading European nation, a key member of the United Nations Security Council, is vital to a shrinking global village.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn recently called his actions in New York a "moral defeat" or a "moral failure." In light of what we know so far about Mr. Sarkozy's presidency, the signs are all there that France needs a change. A breath of fresh air. There is just no room for questionable leaders and corruption. Too much time is wasted on accountability than on the needs of the common man. The people have indicated in last Sunday's election that they want change. Clearly, Mr. Sarkozy has also had his share of "a moral defeat."