Carla Bruni blamed for Nicolas Sarkozy's shift to the left

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London, Nov 17 : French President Nicolas Sarkozy's supporters, who are worried about his inclination towards socialism, believe that his glamorous wife Carla Bruni is behind the shift towards the left.

Sarkozy, famed for his "zero tolerance" policing as interior minister, was once derided on the left as a dangerous right-winger.

But lately he has been showing signs of an ideological rethink- by attacking "fat cats" and the "dictatorship of the market". He has pledged to create 100,000 state-subsidised jobs.

Sarkozy ridiculed the former socialist government last year for a similar gesture. And now, a sudden shift towards socialism, has him caricatured on an Internet website as a French Che Guevara. The French president himself does not rule out that he has changed his political stripes.

"Have I become a socialist? Perhaps," Times Online quoted him as saying recently.

While his supporters call it pragmatism, many call Sarkozy's socialist shift as a clear influence of wife Bruni, who has often described herself as a woman of the left.

Recently, the lady in question created a furore in Italy after she persuaded Sarkozy to override a court's decision to extradite Marina Petrella, a former member of the Red Brigades, to Rome, where she had been found guilty of armed robbery, kidnap and murder.

Also, she criticised Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister's racial comments on US president elect Barack Obama.

The 40-year-old French first lady highlighted her new activism by joining a campaign to stamp out racism and shake up the white political elite.

And Sarkozy, even before meeting Bruni, has given preference to ethnic minorities in his cabinet and last week he appointed the country's first black regional police chief.

Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, a senator in Sarkozy's party, believes that the president is more pragmatic than ideological.

He said: "I certainly don't think he's turned into a socialist."

And as for Bruni: "She's been having an amazingly good influence on him; I don't think she should keep her mouth shut just because she's the wife of the head of state."

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