MIDWAY : Sarko, the cynic

If there is one thing that Nicolas Sarkozy likes even more than eyeing up Rolexes or single-handedly saving Europe from the financial abyss, it has to be a good, old-fashioned court battle. His threat to sue a company producing a voodoo doll in his image, complete with glowering expression, has sparked derision both from the firm responsible, which denounced it as “totally disproportionate”, and from the media, which has made no secret of wholeheartedly enjoying it.

But if there is a curious sense of deja vu about the affair, it is perhaps because it is by no means the first time Sarko has turned to legal action to avenge his despoiled image or hurt pride. Sarkozy is by far the most litigious president in his country’s recent history,

and the French have become wearily accustomed to seeing their diminutive head of state throw his toys out of the Elysee’s gilt-encrusted pram.

In January, shortly before his wedding to Carla Bruni, the president decided to sue the low-budget airline Ryanair for using a picture of the couple in an advertisement.

Just weeks later it was the turn of magazine Le Nouvel Observateur to face his wrath after it published an article claiming Sarkozy had begged his ex-wife to come back to him by text message. (The reporter subsequently apologised and the case was dropped.)

This month the Elysee’s legal team have been especially busy after Sarkozy announced he was suing the country’s former head of the intelligence services over leaked extracts from the

top spy’s diary and a slew of unsubstantiated allegations concerning the president’s sexual and financial exploits.

Some say Sarko’s unusual behaviour stems from the fact that he has put his personal life on display in a manner unprecedented for any French leader. Others blame the coming together of a quick temper and an ego the size of Mont Blanc.

Whatever his motives, the president should be aware that in law, as in politics, actions can have unintended consequences. Previously a literary obscurity, Nicolas Sarkozy - the Voodoo Manual is now No 1 on the Amazon France bestseller list: a book, a doll and a dozen sharp needles, all yours for just EUR12.30. It sounds like a bargain.