Having started off as the ''bling-bling'' president of luxury goods, billionaire friends and Rolexes - behaviour that enraged his French public not so much for its content as for its ostentation - he winds up regretting his lack of ''sobriety''. France's voters have been feeling nostalgic for the allure of a Giscard d'Estaing, for the majesty of a Mitterrand, or the paternal sureness of a Chirac.
At the offset, SuperSarko' could hardly restrain his own behaviour, as when accosted by an unknown person at an Agricultural trade fair, he blurted out in front of rolling cameras: ''scram you wanker''. This faux pas was turned into a rap, a refrain with which to bash the president, but it did not prevent him from committing others until Carla Bruni arrived in his life. They met shortly after the unhappy end to the relationship with Cecilia Ciganer, the wife who left him just as he was acceding to power. With Carla, and since last November with daughter Giulia, the first baby to be born at the Elysee Palace, the rough edges have become more rounded, the think-before-replying time has lengthened and the voice less stringent.
He wanted to reform France's most overburdened structures, making the French ''work more to earn more'', as the pith of his programme had it. President Sarkozy did his best, but the economic crisis and widespread rejection of his way of governing on the part of the French public somewhat complicated this mission. Winning a second turn at the Elysee always looked like a tough call. The positives have been his attempt to reform retirement age - a hurdle all previous predecessors have failed to clear - and university reform, two of the kept promises from Sarkozy's 2007 manifesto, along with securing guaranteed minimum level of transport and school service during strikes. The liberalisations spoken of during the election campaign, aimed at injecting dynamism into the national economy have fallen on stony ground, while various splits within the country have led to sudden u-turns in matters such as immigration and crime.
The President was fiercly criticised during that difficult summer of 2010, which also saw the explosion of the scandal of the bungs to politicians by L'Oreal heir Bettencourt, and the 'Grenoble Speech': reacting to a wave of crime and attacks on the police forces, President Sarkozy threatened French citizens of minority ethnicity that they faced the cancellation of their citizenship if found guilty of this sort of crime. This was followed by raids on and expulsions of ethnic Romanies, revealing Sarkozy as a rabid former interior minister, rather than a president capable of reuniting a divided country.
Foreign policy was marked by Sarkosy's great personal commitment to preventing an explosion of the Georgia crisis with Russia in 2008, which was followed by France's return to NATO's integrated command. But the final period of Sarkozy's presidency has been marked above all by the operation in Libya, announced live from the President's offices while French fighter plances were already in the skies abover Benghazi, and the presidency of the G8 and of the G20 at that most difficult of moments as the global financial crisis was exploding.
From a personal point of view, if President Sarkozy has found a favourable solution to the Clearstream case, brought against him by eternal enemy Dominique de Villepin, he remains entangled in the web of bribery from billionnaire Liliane Bettencourt, and has left an after-taste of nepotism in his appointment of son Jean to head EPAD, a body that regulates tenders in Paris' prestigious Defense financial district. (ANSAmed).