Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing pressure from friends and doctors to tone down his trademark hyperactive style after a health scare while jogging on Sunday.
Nicknamed the “hyperpresident” in the French press, the 54-year-old has visited 65 countries in two years since taking office, and is famous for micromanaging all aspects of politics.
He follows a rigorous exercise regime, running or cycling several times a week and working out with a personal trainer, and he has been on a diet.
His office said the dizzy spell was due to a mix of intense exercise in the heat and the stress of a heavy workload.
“He needs to take care of himself. I hope for him that it will be a lesson for him to calm down,” Patrick Balkany, a close friend of Sarkozy, told RTL radio.
“Sometimes he needs to try a bit less hard and eat a little bit more. He’s on a diet because he’s always a little bit too heavy ... let’s say he doesn’t want to be overweight.”
Sarkozy collapsed while running in the sun and was helicoptered to hospital, where he stayed overnight for tests. He left hospital on foot on Monday and will take it easier for a couple of days before leaving on a three-week break.
Recently the teetotal president has looked exhausted as his gruelling schedule takes its toll.
His office said he had not lost consciousness and cardiological and neurological tests were normal.
Doctors say he will still need to take care.
“A faint spell is never harmless,” Pierre Souvet, a cardiologist told the Parisien newspaper, adding that it was rare to have such an episode in the middle of physical activity.
Last week Sarkozy made a 48-hour trip to New York to meet UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon and hear his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy sing. In June, he visited Gabon, Belgium, and Guadeloupe.
He has also faced domestic political pressure as he tries to steer France through the global financial crisis, which has led to a jump in unemployment.
His party triumphed in June’s European parliamentary elections but his own ratings have stagnated.
He likes to show he is on top of every political situation, dashing to Brittany to meet disgruntled fishermen last year or to factories to talk to workers threatened with job cuts.
Analysts say it will be difficult for Sarkozy to ditch his trademark political style.
“I don’t think he’s really going to change his political rhythm, his way of governing, of controlling everything, not letting his ministers govern, watching over lots of things,” said Mariette Sineau, political analyst at the Cevipof research institute.
“It’s his style and his character. You can’t change people.”