Ex Paris mayor, President Jacques Chirac generously gave Nicholas Sarkozy his official endorsement in his bid for the presidency last month, shortly after announcing that he would be stepping down after 12 years in office and would not be seeking a third term. Chirac's presidential immunity runs out a month after he steps down on May 16 and there are 3 outstanding matters that relate to his time as the mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.
Two cases deal with the illegal use of Paris city funds to pay his own staff and sympathisers of Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party, the predecessor of the governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
A third case surrounds a Paris printing firm which is suspected of rigging public tender contracts and of funding the RPR via the mayor's office.
Le Canard Enchaine reports that Sarkozy has agreed to protect Chirac in exchange for an endorsement of his candidacy ahead of the April 22 election. Predictably Sarkozy 52 said"It's grotesque, it's hurtful and it's untrue, I deny it in the firmest and fullest terms," as he campaigned through the north Paris suburb of Villepinte and attended a ceremony for new French citizens.
Sarkozy is battling against startling views he aired in a weekend interview for Philosophie magazineon a belief that their is a genetic component in paedophilia and has been quoted saying: "I'm inclined, personally, to think that you are born paedophile, and it's a problem that we don't know how to treat this pathology.
"There are 1,200 to 1,300 youths who kill themselves in France each year, and it's not because their parents took care of them badly.It's because, genetically, they had an underlying fragility and pain ... circumstances aren't everything, the share of the innate is immense."On Tuesday he sought to downplay his comments, rhetorically asking "Who can tell me it's normal to rape a three-year-old boy? In relation to that, what is nature and what is nurture? I would refrain from deciding one way or the other".
A remark if not calculated to, it certainly raised the political temperature. Right Wing demagogue Le Pen called Sarkozy's comments "absurd".
On the left, the Greens and the anti-globalisation candidate, Jose Bove, accused Mr Sarkozy of preaching "eugenics". Communist Party candidate, Marie-George Buffet, said the genetic argument was a "monstrosity" which had served as an ideological basis for Nazism.
The Catholic archbishop of Paris, Mgr André Vingt-Trois, said he was alarmed at the implication that the destiny of certain people was irrevocably written into their DNA.
Ségolène Royal, the beautiful, Socialist candidate (whose brother helped blow up the Rainbow Warrior) in 2nd in the polls, said it was the place of scientists and not politicians to pronounce on such matters.Latest opinion polls suggest Sarkozy will win the first round of voting on April 22 with 29% of the vote against 24% for Ms Royal.