Sarkozy’s son wins post after scandal

Associated Press / October 24, 2009

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PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy’s son was elected to the board of the organization that runs France’s most important business district yesterday, after a dramatic withdrawal of his bid for the top spot amid accusations of favoritism that carried political risks for his father.

The president maintained an official silence, then turned to Facebook to say he was proud of his 23-year-old son.

Jean Sarkozy had been the leading candidate to head EPAD, a quasi-governmental organization overseeing real estate and the administration of La Defense, the neighborhood of skyscrapers west of Paris that is home to top companies and the workplace of 150,000 people. He withdrew that bid Thursday night after two weeks of cries of favoritism - and vows not to back down.

The 45-member board - 30 of whom hail from the French president’s conservative UMP party or its allies - voted, as expected, to give him a spot on the board of directors. He will fill the seat of a member who stepped down in October.

Patrick Devedjian, current EPAD president, who ill be forced to retire at 65, saluted the “responsible and dignified decision’’ of Jean Sarkozy, who has not yet finished law school, to withdraw from the running to replace him.

The young Sarkozy’s surprise announcement not to seek the job in a Dec. 4 vote drew salutes of “courage’’ from the president’s right and sighs of relief from detractors.

President Sarkozy said on a Facebook posting that his son “made a wise and courageous decision. I’m proud of him.’’

“This week Jean proved himself in the face of a difficult choice in a context larger than himself,’’ the president’s posting said.