Aid funds boosted Sarkozy loyalists

Ex-president used parliamentary funds to push pet projects in vital election areas

FORMER President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of using parliamentary funds from the Réserve ministérielle to push projects in vital election areas for his ministers and close aides.

Today Le Monde says that the Réserve ministérielle - which makes up 20% of the Réserve Parliamentaire available to all MPs and senators according to party and status to fund pet local projects – was used for projects in the constituencies of ex-PM François Fillon and ex-budget ministers Eric Woerth, Valérie Pécresse and François Baroin.

The newspaper said that Mr Sarkozy controlled two-thirds of the allocations of funds with the largest sum - 5% of the total over the years 2011-2012 - going for projects in Mr Fillon’s Sarthe department.

After Sarthe, Mr Baroin’s Aube was the next-highest beneficiary, receiving €2.7m over two years. Mr Woerth’s Oise and Ms Pécresse’s Yvelines were among the next highest to get the extra spending available.

The paper said the benefits went beyond ministers, with UMP general secretary Jean-François Copé’s constituency benefiting to the tune of €1.5m.

Damien Meslot, UMP MP for the Territoire de Belfort, said that his area had received nearly €1.2m in project funds because of “my unfailing support for the president” and because he had put in numerous requests for aid “as it is the role of an MP to represent their constituency”.

The existence of the réserve parlementaire was denied until earlier this year, but National Assembly president Claude Bartolone has said the use of the €150 million-a-year fund will be made “transparent by the end of the year”.

Other fund projects, mostly benefiting councils, have ranged from church doors to boulodromes and, for François Hollande, a swimming pool slide.