“Faced with speculation, we needed the atomic bomb”

Nicolas Sarkozy: “We, heads of state, were the last barrier. We had to build an impable dike.” Jean-Christophe Marmara/JC MARMARA / LE FIGARO

At the end of 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy presided over the European Union at the same time as France. He recounts his battle to save the banking system.

Crisis memories are a bit like war memories. They forge legends, exuding in the same reminiscence the excitement of the action and the fear of the moment. Elected on May 6, 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy was at the forefront of a crisis tailor-made for a head of state renowned for his desire to fight and his energy to act. “We become President of the Republic to act in these exciting moments in which we have, as head of state, basically much more freedom to act than in ordinary times,” he said.

His mandate was marked by the battle against the financial crisis and then the euro crisis, which made him play an essential and widely praised role. The former French president can also pride himself on having shown a little more prescience than many of his counterparts. The market collapse in the summer of 2007 had challenged him. “It was then necessary to be completely blind not to be alarmed!” he believes. He wrote to Angela Merkel at the time…

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