Leading article: French farce

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To his supporters it resembles a tragedy; to his enemies it looks like a farce. But there can be no denying that Nicolas Sarkozy has injected a powerful sense of drama into the French Presidency since taking office. It started off gently enough with some jogging; the second act featured a plush yacht. Since then there has been a tense divorce scene, followed by the introduction of the supermodel and a clandestine marriage. Now we have been treated to some agricultural language at an agricultural show. There has been some politics, too, but not enough to distract people from the main action.

Yet while the drama has attracted many viewers, very few like what they are seeing. M. Sarkozy's opinion ratings have plummeted since he took office. People are saying that his behaviour has been "unpresidential".

It looked like that was about to change yesterday when M. Sarkozy seemed to admit in a newspaper interview that he was wrong to trade insults with a bystander at the Salon de L'Agriculture in Paris at the weekend. But not so. It soon emerged that M. Sarkozy did not want to apologise for anything. "Je ne regrette rien", as one of his compatriots once sang.

Still, at least M. Sarkozy's minders can be thankful that the president did not react on Sunday as John Prescott did when confronted by a less than enthusiastic supporter on the election trail in 2001. Somehow, one suspects that the defence of "Nicolas is Nicolas" would be unlikely to go down well in France in the present climate. For many of M. Sarkozy's countrymen and women, that is precisely the problem