Who’s winning the beauty contest?

While we await Nicolas Sarkozy’s formal reelection announcement in a post-Valentines’s haze, a new poll shows that former prime minister Dominique de Villepin has leaped to the head of French polls…

…among a survey of who voters believe is the sexiest candidate.

Unfortunately, de Villepin hasn’t been able to gain any traction in the race — in polls for presidential preference, he typically draws somewhere in the low single digits. De Villepin’s unpopularity dates from the waning days of the Chirac presidency; de Villepin became prime minister in May 2005 following the defeat of France’s referendum on the EU constitution. De Villepin was viewed as less decisive than Sarkozy, particular during a series of riots in the banlieues of Paris and throughout France in autumn 2005, and during a series of student strikes following the introduction of a 2006 jobs contract that would make it easier for employers to fire young employees (and thereby reducing youth unemployment).

De Villepin was also implicated, but acquitted in 2010, of charges of wrongdoing in the Clearstream affair.  Essentially, he was thought to have colluded with other Chirac officials to hide from French judges the fact that an alleged laundering charge against several top French officials was not credible.  Those top officials, however, included Sarkozy, who as Chirac’s interior minister, ruffled de Villepin and ultimately overshadowed the unpopular prime minister as the presumptive heir to Chirac in 2007.

Although he was a popular foreign minister and led the case for France in the United Nations in opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, de Villepin’s lack of any prior electoral success and his aristocratic mien have handicapped him in the past.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy placed well below de Villepin in the “sexiest” poll with just 7%. I wonder what Carla Bruni has to say about that.

Poor François Hollande, who has led polls for presidential preference since last year, placed at the bottom with only 2%, notwithstanding his moderate weight loss and somewhat of a makeover.

I wonder (even more) what Ségolène Royal has to say about that.

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