The cheese eating surrender monkeys might be the world champions at marching backwards but their politicians are sometimes very cunning.
Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday crashed out of the race to elect a Right-wing nominee for next year’s presidential election in France, after François Fillon, a Thatcherite with a Welsh wife, came a spectacular first ahead of Alain Juppé.
The race to pick a nominee for the Republicans party has sparked huge interest as the winner is likely to meet – and defeat – Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-EU, anti-immigrant Front National, in the definitive presidential run-off next May.
The ballot was open to anyone willing to pay €2 who professes agreement with the values of the centre-Right.
In a surprise outcome, Mr Fillon was on course to finish far out in front in round one.
With almost 9,000 out of 10,000 polling stations counted, Mr Fillon was on 44.1 per cent, Mr Juppé on 28.2 per cent and Mr Sarkozy well behind on 21 per cent.
The result was a crushing blow for the ex-French president had hoped to reclaim the keys to the Elysée Palace after his defeat to Socialist François Hollande in 2012.
But Mr Sarkozy took his defeat gracefully, bowing out of frontline French politics, perhaps this time for good.
Addressing his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and his four children, he said: It’s not easy to live with a man who sparks so much passion. It’s time for me to live a life with more private passion and less public passion. Good luck France.”
Mr Sarkozy had reached out to the far-Right electorate with a muscular stance on national identity, immigration and Islam. That tactic clearly failed. But he urged his supporters not to drop the mainstream Right for the Front National. “I will ask them never to take the path of extremes. France deserves so much more than the worst choice.”
Mr Sarkozy then threw his weight behind Mr Fillon, 62, his former prime minister and an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, who has pledged to slash half a million state sector jobs and hack away at rigid labour laws.
I like the sound of axing half a million state sector jobs. Maybe there is some hope for the Frogs?