Nicolas Sarkozy: France reaction veers from sympathy to sarcasm

Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy with his wife Carla Bruni Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, with his wife Carla Bruni, on the campaign trail in November

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has received mixed messages, from supportive to mocking, after failing to get through the first round of France's presidential primaries on Sunday.

"Sometimes the best lose," wrote Mr Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni on Instagram.

Meanwhile, his critics used social media to poke fun at his defeat.

Mr Sarkozy announced his withdrawal from politics after the results were announced.

"Bravo my love, I am proud of you," Ms Bruni added, alongside the photo she posted of her husband.

The ex-leader had hoped to become the centre-right presidential candidate in the 2017 elections, but instead rivals Alain Juppe and Francois Fillon will battle it out in the second round.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni in the first stages of their relationship in 2007

Some of his critics were quick to taunt him on Twitter, with images that appeared to be their ballot papers next to a €2 coin. The vote had been open to anyone willing to the pay this fee, even if they were not members of the Republican party, as long as they signed a statement of centre-right values.

Meanwhile, an assortment of his supporters cut up their Republican party membership cards in protest at the result and posted the images on Twitter.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption An upset Republican party member cut up her membership card and her husband's

In his concession speech, Mr Sarkozy, who was French president from 2007 to 2012, said he would "embark on a life with more private passions and fewer public passions".

His relationship with Ms Bruni, his glamorous third wife, has fascinated the press, nationally and internationally. They married in 2008, soon after meeting, and had a daughter in 2011.

Mr Sarkozy's son Louis, from a previous marriage, joined the show of family support on Monday with a Facebook post showing his father as a young man, carrying the French flag. Louis Sarkozy captioned the picture: "Certain love stories never end."

Online, some people were less sympathetic. One portrayed Mr Sarkozy as cartoon character Homer Simpson, disguising himself in a pile of chips - a play on his recent suggestion that school canteens offer a double portion of chips to Muslim students that do not eat pork for religious reasons.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A Twitter user compared Nicolas Sarkozy to Homer Simpson.

Mr Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation earlier this year, following accusations that his unsuccessful 2012 campaign for re-election had racked up costs far above the legal limit.

In the run-up to Sunday's vote, a parody video showing him accepting an Oscar for his repeated denials of wrongdoing received more than four million views.

He has been such a prominent figure in French politics that people joked on Twitter that he may not accept the voters' decision and instead return to run as German chancellor in Germany's elections next year.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A joke on Twitter after Sarkozy's defeat, imagining the former leader refusing to go quietly and instead wanting to run in the German elections.
Image copyright Getty Images

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