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French love affair with Sarkozy is fading

Amid a high-profile romance with Italian supermodel Carla Bruni, the French president is facing tough questions and slipping in public opinion polls.

Amour amid pyramids: French President Nicolas Sarkozy toured Egypt recently with girlfriend Carla Bruni.

Ben CuRtis/AP

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Nicolas Sarkozy, the perpetual-motion French president, has dipped significantly in the polls – to 48-percent approval – in the midst of an unusual, highly publicized new romance with supermodel-singer Carla Bruni and a likely marriage next month.

As Mr. Sarkozy is being splashed across the pages of French magazines and newspapers in the company of Ms. Bruni at Disneyland Paris and the Egyptian pyramids, he's also finding some tougher new questions about his performance, possible constraints on his promise to reform, and criticism about his jet-set image at a time when many French still feel that their economy is listing.

At his first official press conference this week at the Elysée palace in front of 600 journalists, Sarkozy sought to ameliorate the grumbling.

In fine French fashion, he set out lofty concepts over two hours about the importance of a great civilization, talked about an Internet tax, and the project of reforming the 35-hour work-week. He joked with the press for "waiting until the second question" to ask about his love life, and turned back their criticism of making his romance a Page 1 story by chiding them for sending photographers.

'The Carla effect'

French traditionally don't care, and don't want to know about, the private lives of their top office holders. Yet due to what is being called "the Carla effect," Sarkozy is losing some credit among ordinary French – a miscalculation by the palace, which is said to have hoped for a "glamour bounce."


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