Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Nicolas Sarkozy

Highs: Pushing a controversial pension reform through the Parliament, the French President withstood weeks of bitter protests that paralyzed the country to see the legislation approved on Oct. 27. A reshuffle on Nov. 14 swerved Sarkozy's cabinet to the right, reaffirming his tough, conservative agenda, which Sarkozy claims is the panacea for a country that can no longer rely on its traditional safety nets.

Lows:Sarkozy rarely shies from controversy and his unpopularity in certain quarters of France and Europe reached new lows. Apart from the pension reform, he ordered on July 28 the expulsion of undocumented Roma and other itinerant migrants who have committed any "public-order" crimes. The hardline move earned Sarkozy a rebuke from the EU. The French President was also implicated in scandal: in June, released audio recordings revealed a potential link between his 2007 presidential election bid and Lilliane Bettencourt, the embattled heiress of l'Oréal who stands accused of tax evasion. Sarkozy's office dismissed the charges — which have been retracted, in part — as "baseless," but the image of collusion with France's mega-rich remains.

Ishaan Tharoor