PARIS (Reuters) - A majority of French people, including supporters of the ruling center right, oppose the expected appointment of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s son as head of a large urban development agency, a poll Friday showed.
The nomination of Jean Sarkozy, 23, as president of the agency that oversees the La Defense business district in Paris has provoked a media storm in France, with the opposition and many commentators accusing the president of nepotism.
The opinion poll by the CSA institute in the Le Parisien daily showed a total of 64 percent of those surveyed thought the expected appointment was a bad thing. Even among supporters of the right, 51 percent were against it.
Critics say Sarkozy junior, a second year law student and regional councilor, is unqualified to head a body that will oversee a 1 billion euro ($1.49 billion) redevelopment of La Defense and owes his promotion solely to his family name.
The move has also caused deep unease among many politicians in Sarkozy’s own ruling UMP party, worried at the effect on public opinion at a time when the unemployment rate among young people under 25 in France is running at almost 24 percent.
While completing his studies, Jean Sarkozy is also a regional councilor in the wealthy Hauts-de-Seine department just outside Paris, the region where his father built his own political career.
He is expected to be named this month to the board of EPAD, the agency that oversees La Defense, a skyscraper-filled zone of offices and banks that aims to rival the City of London as a financial center.
He will then stand for election as president of the body when the current incumbent leaves at the end of the year and is almost certain to be voted in by the board of councilors and state representatives.
Nicolas Sarkozy brushed off accusations of nepotism in an interview in Friday’s edition of the Le Figaro daily and said critics were trying to get at him through his son.
The survey in Le Parisien also showed a majority against Sarkozy’s planned carbon emissions tax, a levy designed to improve energy efficiency that is expected to add about 5 cents to the price of a liter of petrol.
The poll found 59 percent of those questioned opposed to the tax, including 51 percent of supporters of the right.
Writing by James Mackenzie; editing by Ralph Boulton