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Nicolas Sarkozy served as France's 23rd president from 2007 to 2012. His term was marked by controversy, which included his marriage to Carla Bruni in 2008.
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In order to secure their extradition, he signed security, health-care and immigration pacts with Muammar Gaddafi. He also signed an arms trade agreement, sparking controversy and a criticism that he had bartered arms for hostages with a "rogue state." Sarkozy, as well as Bulgarian officials, deny that the two deals were related.
Sarkozy's environmental policies were more popular. During the 33rd G8 summit,
he announced that France would attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2050, in an effort to reduce global warming. In 2010, France was ranked No. 1 on Yale University's Environmental Performance Index.
Historically, the president of the French Republic has focused on foreign relations; and the nation's prime minister has focused on domestic policy. Sarkozy, however, took a more active role in domestic issues. As part of his economic stimulus package, he reduced the inheritance tax and enacted the TEPA Law, which offered tax cuts to wealthy households. He also took a tough stance on immigration, and forced mass deportations of the Gypsy (Roma) population. Additionally, under Sarzoky's leadership, a new program was enacted to use fingerprints to profile passengers at airports, and to integrate that database into both the criminal justice and national security databases.
In 2007, Sarkozy also broke with the Bastille Day tradition of offering amnesty for traffic tickets and releasing some prisoners from jail—a French custom that was started by Napoleon in 1802, to commemorate the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. In protest, public sector workers went on strike. University protests erupted at the same time, in protest of a polemical law that Sarkozy had established.
Over the five years of his presidency, Sarkozy's approval ratings fell from the highest in the country's history to the lowest, at 26 percent, and he was considered a long-shot for re-election. He maintained that he would make a comeback and prevail, but in May of 2012, he was defeated in his bid for re-election by Socialist François Hollande. In his concession speech, Sarkozy said he assumed "full responsibility for this defeat," and suggested retiring from the political spotlight.
As with his political life, Sarkozy has courted controversy in his personal life. Sarkozy has been married to three women. He and his second wife, Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz, divorced in October of 2007, shortly after he took office, and he met his third wife, model and singer Carla Bruni, less than a month after he and Ciganer-Albéniz separated. He and Bruni were married three months later.
Sarkozy has four children; he has two children with his first wife, Marie-Dominique Culioli; one with Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz; and one with Carla Bruni.
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