On air: What’s wrong with nepotism?

jeansarkozyHe’s 23, still at university and he’s about to given a fantastic new job as head of France’s top business district. Oh, and he’s the son of the French President.

The attacks on Jean Sarkozy’ imminent appointment as chair of the agency which manages La Defense have been so venonmous, President Nicholas Sarkozy has today come to his sons defence, saying he’s been “thrown to the wolves.”

There’s been criticism that this stinks of nepotism and that at 23 (and still a student), he lacks the necessary experience to head up such an important and pivotal role. In France an online petition against the decision has gathered over 40,000 signatures and blogs commenting on the job aren’t exactly supportive either.

So, it raises a few questions…there are obvious charges of nepotism, but should we really be surprised? This blog looks at political nepotism in the US. Do children of politicians really get a helping hand thanks to mum or dad? Or is it actually harder to prove themselves? And if you could benefit from a family contact, wouldn’t you use it?

Other questions are about Jean Sarkozy’s age and experience. Can a person of 23 have the ability, experience and skill to manage a team so important to the French government? Or are some people born leaders and deserving, no matter what their age?

118 Responses to “On air: What’s wrong with nepotism?”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    October 13, 2009 at 21:32

    If daddy threw him to the wolves, he better be good. Time will tell and just maybe someone will relearn a hard lesson on the potential problems of nepotism. But I doubt it is anything to get excited about.

    • 2 nina in texas
      October 13, 2009 at 23:53

      Unfortunately, that is what I find so infuriating about the situation. People and business will suffer so someone can play executive, in reality poor management could cost people their jobs! How irresponsible of both the president and the son to accept the position.

    • October 14, 2009 at 04:55

      I think so too ! Probably a dearth of impotant issues to discuss.

    • 5 Tim G in Versailles
      October 14, 2009 at 17:35

      Although I guess he is having plenty of push from his Dad, he still has to be elected by a group of independent people. Give a young one a chance, the old ones with supposed experience and appropriate qualifications still make plenty of mistakes

  2. 6 T
    October 13, 2009 at 22:15

    Here’s another thought. Will Jean be working under a contract with lots of perks, holidays, and a “well-deserved” severence package (if the worst happens). Also, if he did get sacked, would Dad break the news to him?

  3. 7 Nigel
    October 14, 2009 at 01:22

    And Dad is telling the bankers not to pay bonuses?……..what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

  4. 8 Dennis Junior
    October 14, 2009 at 04:07

    First off, Congrats to Jean Sarkozy on his new job…But, in reality it seems like a
    tad bit of nepotism is involved..

    ~Dennis Junior~

  5. 9 scmehta
    October 14, 2009 at 06:18

    The appointment does bespeak of nepotism. In any case, if he doesn’t perform exceptionally well or show positive results, he will have to be shown the door.

  6. 10 Jim Newman
    October 14, 2009 at 10:27

    Hello again
    Nepotism and cronyism have always been a powerful factor in politics. Cronyism, in my opinion, is always bad because the people chosen are usually blinkered to such an extent that they can’t think for themselves. Nepotism is a bit more unreliable especially when the relationship is father and son because sons have a horrible way of thinking independently of their fathers. In the case of Jean Sarkozy – by the way he hasn’t been elected yet – the position that he may occupy, according to my information, will be a purely honorary one but it is a prestigious position, none the less. It is a position with which ‘ le petit Magyar’ probably hopes to increase the anglo-saxon footprint in France.

    • 11 Tom K in Mpls
      October 14, 2009 at 16:20

      A few other things. There are exceptions to any rule. Jean might be the exception, might. I lost my last job due to a poorly run ‘family’ company. Only one was clearly qualified, two were okay assuming pay was reasonable. The others were a bad joke. When a person is raised to a job, they can gain experience and have the contacts to be more effective.

      He will be so closely watched, I doubt he will say ‘let them eat cake’.

  7. 12 Crispo, Uganda
    October 14, 2009 at 12:28

    Reverse politiking, but first, congrats to Jean. Luckly for him, daddy is there for him, even when he isn’t qualified for a job he wants. It’s funny that, in the whole of France, there’s only one man capable of the job and he’s not yet fully qualified. I thought those were nightmares riddled only in African states, isn’t it supposed to be? Am only asking.

  8. 13 patti in cape coral
    October 14, 2009 at 13:01

    What’s wrong with nepotism is that it shuts out independent candidates of equal or higher skill. An aunt of mine works for a company and has gotten her son, husband, and most of her family jobs in the company, making beaucoup money. From what I have seen, they seem to be hard workers and good at their jobs, but it still seems wrong, and I can’t believe she got away with it.

  9. October 14, 2009 at 13:04

    Nepotism is a current feature in many countries. Influential families, for their survival, struggle to keep high positions at least through one of their members. It happens at the level of enterprises, where the manager first secures a position for his children, however incompetent they might be for the sake of family unity.

    But nepotism isn’t the correct way to do things as people with great potentials are marginalised or become subservient to others who have inherited titles and wealth without having the experience to live up to them.

    In monarchies, it’s normal for a prince to have an honorary position in an establishment. But in republics, as it is the case of France, allowing a person to take a position on the strength of being the offspring of an influential personality, is a mockery of the democraic system. If nepotism becomes widespread, the human potential of societies will be lost and one class becomes the master of the other classes. Which means the return of aristocratic and feudal systems in a modern disguise.

  10. 15 vijay Pillai
    October 14, 2009 at 14:19

    Sorry i was not born with such connections,but what would one say if a 25 year old Prince represent Queen as head of state in Australia? Prince Charles assumed Prince of wales at the age of 21.

    Frence dont have a similar royal patronage but let this young man have this largely ceremonial job,real job done by the people below him.There are cases of sons or daughers becoming Prime Ministers. Give the benefit of doubt to him.

    He looks a dashing young man.

  11. 16 jens
    October 14, 2009 at 14:21

    well i guess they just could not find anybody better qualified than a student to do this job……beats flipping burgers, though.

  12. 17 Roy, Washington DC
    October 14, 2009 at 14:44

    More like, “What isn’t wrong with nepotism?” It’s favoritism. Giving someone a position simply because of who they are goes against the notion that the position should go to whoever is most qualified. This applies to both jobs and political positions. It isn’t fair to others who are vying for the same position, and it isn’t fair to the public, since it can potentially dilute the quality of work done.

    Jean Sarkozy may well be highly qualified for this position. He may even be the most qualified. Simply being a Sarkozy isn’t a qualification, though.

  13. 18 Jerry Cordaro Cleveland OH
    October 14, 2009 at 14:48

    Nepotism is okay to an extent – that is, if your family knows someone who can help you get a job you’re qualified for, no problem. It’s when you’re given a job you’re clearly not qualified for (Bush, anyone?) just because of your family that the problem come in.

  14. 19 Sade
    October 14, 2009 at 14:51

    Like Roman Polanski and probably because of Polanski (it would barely have surfaced otherwise), the possibility of this young man’s securing such a position because of his father has raised the hackles of people everywhere.

    Perhaps it is his age because, like it or not, this sort of thing happens all the time. People who hire, or who have influence over hiring, are very powerful people.

    We may not like it but what can we do about it?

  15. October 14, 2009 at 14:56

    Nepotism is a by-product of absolute power and acts as a door opener for the family member to get a important position otherwise would’nt be available without the family/blood relation.It(Nepotism) has it’s flip side too as his work will be always be under spot light and mistakes will get magnified and his good work will be discounted.

  16. 21 Joan Belfon
    October 14, 2009 at 14:58

    I don’t have a problem with parents helping their children to find jobs but when you’re the president of a country you might want to give this a second thought. Additionally, I would like to believe that he is being given the job because he is the best person for it and that some more deserving person is not being denied this job to facilitate the president’s son. Did he apply, submit his resume like everyone else and was interviewed for the job? If everything was transparent about the application for the job and he’s the best person for it then good luck to him. I just hope the president is also willing to give his son the pink slip if he is not performing.

  17. 22 Jessica
    October 14, 2009 at 15:08

    In one of the offices in the county where I work the elected official has hired two of his sons, the daughter of his mistress (who also works in the office), and the daughter of another employee. I believe they are part-time employees. There are only a few full-time employees doing the actual work in this overstaffed office.
    I wouldn’t have such a problem with the nepotism if those people were actually needed &/or really working. I’m not sure of his budget for 2010, but all county offices were asked to cut budgets by 20%. I think he could do that by getting rid of the dead weight.

  18. 23 Jennifer
    October 14, 2009 at 15:09

    Re: Do children of politicians really get a helping hand thanks to mum or dad? Or is it actually harder to prove themselves? And if you could benefit from a family contact, wouldn’t you use it?

    I don’t see what is wrong with a politician’s child getting a “helping hand” because of connections their parents have. The only people who seem to have a problem with that are people who are not supporters of said politician. Can the child of a politician not have talent and offer anything to a position? I think it’s just harder for them to prove themselves by their own merits.

    I don’t see why people are stating that at 23 someone has no experience or doesn’t have ability to succeed at such a job. It would seem to me that having someone young; with fresh ideas, determination, etc. could be more of an benefit than someone who was older.

  19. 24 steve
    October 14, 2009 at 15:10

    That’s the problem with socialist, big governments. That’s lots of room for corruption and nepotism. There’s no way he deserves that job, and had he had any other name, he wouldn’t even be working in the mailroom there….

  20. 26 Ryan Lobo
    October 14, 2009 at 15:17

    One of the definitions of nepotism:

    Favoritism granted to relatives or close friends, without regard to their merit. Nepotism usually takes the form of employing relatives or appointing them to high office.

    There is nothing wrong with appointing relatives or close friends to high office as long as they are competent and qualified to do the job. The relationship should not be taken as the sole criteria for appointment. Charges of nepotism in the last US Presidential election were un called for. Hillary Clinton was qualified, competent and experienced in her own right.

    In the case of Sarkozy, if being the son of the President is used ( even subliminally) as the criteria in appointing him it is wrong. In France’s case we all know what happened in 1789!!

  21. October 14, 2009 at 15:20

    Ancient Egypt,ancient Rome,ancient this and ancient that. They survived on nepotism,it was a way of life and still is,if truth be told. If daddy was stupid enough to give me a top job,yes,I would take it,and then depend on others to carry me. You may have been better asking what is right with nepotism,we could then have all sat with blank stares and head scratching.

  22. 28 Lamii Kpargoi
    October 14, 2009 at 15:31

    For me nepotism is plain wrong. Regardless of which family someone comes from, if he wants to function in the world of employment, he should be made to fairly compete with other candidates and he should certainly not be allowed to just enter any job from the apex.

    Guess Sarkozy is borrowing from African leaders who posture their children so that they can succeed them. Gabon, DR Congo, Togo and now in the offing Senegal are just few examples that come to mind.

  23. 29 Linda in Italy
    October 14, 2009 at 15:38

    Here in Italy, nepotism is an absolute scourge, along with cronyism, although that takes second place because of the all-powerful position of the family in society.
    This form of corruption infects all areas of life, but particularly our horrendously bureaucratic public sector. Everything from university chairs to a job on the buses is passed down, usually from father to son, just as all those family businesses pass everything to the eldest son, regardless of how incompetent and/or uninterested in that business he may be.
    This is one of the reasons our public services are so inefficient and unhelpful and because the concept of the civil “servant” just does not exist, this has appalling effects on society as a whole. Bright young people who are not well connected stand very little chance of a bright future, also because every other conceivable form of cheating is endemic in the education system.
    The thing that makes me smile is that the French are so proud of their “liberté, egalité et fraternité” but in many ways they appear to be just as corrupt as the Italian elite, they just won’t admit it!

  24. 30 James Turner
    October 14, 2009 at 15:44

    Nothing if you’re the one being nepotized……. (not a word?)

  25. October 14, 2009 at 16:01

    A parent will naturally want the best for their child. However, I feel that it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure that his or her child is well qualified for the position.

  26. 32 Luz Ma from Mexico
    October 14, 2009 at 16:10

    The thing is we will never know if those who got their jobs through their family connections were the best qualified for the job. The doubt will be there forever.

    I think nepotism is wrong, but it is very common and many people don´t see any wrongness about it (usually those who benefit from it)

  27. 33 Crispo, Uganda
    October 14, 2009 at 16:11

    I’ll say this, i started work while at University and at 20years not 23, like Jean. The difference was, i looked for this job, may be sarkozy did, we don’t have evidence. I’m now 24years, and on another job. The problem here is not if he’s got the qualification, but the unfair advantage.

  28. 35 Chintan in Houston
    October 14, 2009 at 16:18

    There is nothing wrong with it and it exists at every level in the society, it is not the privilege of the rich and the famous.
    When you are in college career counselors advice you to start building your network early. That is the reason you have peer lunches, conferences, presentations where you get noticed and build connections that will last a long time.
    After all in certain cases its not WHAT you know, its WHO you know!

  29. 36 Tom K in Mpls
    October 14, 2009 at 16:21

    I did not intend a reply above.

  30. 37 Roberto
    October 14, 2009 at 16:23

    RE “” Oh, and he’s the son of the French President. “”

    ————— I’ve worked for a few family operations where the founder stocked the top positions with family, and almost without exception all operated at a very low level.

    They were also miserly with their pay and conditions, the rest of us treated like field hands. There was a lot of fear over angering one which meant angering all and likely job dismissal. Never worked long at these places and won’t ever do so in the future as they are not healthy places with healthy colleagues to produce the best work.

  31. October 14, 2009 at 16:24

    Nepotism stinks. A person already BORN with advantage (money, education, etc.) ought not press that advantage into accepting even the appearance of a gift of employment. If THIS were the norm, the disadvantage of being advantaged in the work world setting would help to level the playing field so that the best qualified (not the best connected) earns the job. If I were the young Mr. Sarkozy, I wouldn’t have wanted this job or any other connected with my father’s government, whether I were the best qualified or not. I would want to know I have made my own way in the world.

  32. 39 Tamatoa, Zurich
    October 14, 2009 at 16:28

    First, Nepotism is defined as something bad. So we actually don’t have to talk about it. We already know the answer. Question is: How far should parental influence go?

    In my eyes job qualification includes aquired knowledge in school, trust and intuitive knowledge (things you cant explicit: intuitive knowledge of the field / tradition).
    If anyone gets you a job through recommendation they’re also putting their reputation on the line. If you make a bad recommendation then your trustworthiness diminishes. This would happen if Jean Sarkozy fails. But then again a 23 year-old human being is capable of a lot of things. He hasn’t failed yet. He could have intuitively learnt the business from his father which would add to qualifications. And if the father-son / employer-employee relationship is good then motivation, supervision and trustworthiness are very high further adding to his qualification. In Jean Sarkozy’s case I don’t believe it was a good choice but the verdict is still out.

    We all have networks. Parents are part of it. You should use this as a resource. Parents love their childfren. So they will only recommend you for a job you’re capable of doing. They don’t want to see their children fail and suffer. So there is room for people that have better qualifications. In the end it’s about finding the right balance.

  33. 40 Mohammed Ali
    October 14, 2009 at 16:30

    Totally wrong. I think he should have gone through the procedures. others are gonna suffer because of his inexperience.

  34. 41 DOLAPO AINA
    October 14, 2009 at 16:39

    This is incredulous. I thought this only happened in Africa!! What would happen to the credibility of this institution? What would become of the managerial ability and credibility of the institution? Wasn’t it Sarkozy that was hampering on the need to cut bonuses of financial demi-gods? so much for western ideals cum democracy So much talk about transparency but look at the mess these politicians are about to create.

    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  35. 42 jens
    October 14, 2009 at 16:45

    the issue is that he needs to manage a team……a 23 year old is rarely in the position do have enough experiance to do so. there are exceptions but not many. I manage several teams and it takes a lot of people skills toget the best from every person involved. people skills come from years of experiance and not a couple of years at the university.

    i do not wish him ill, but fear that this position while still studying is going to ruin his future prospects more than it will help him.

  36. 43 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    October 14, 2009 at 16:46

    Problems with Nepotism in any country is that people employed in such a jobs dont work to the benefits of the society.

  37. 44 Robert Macala
    October 14, 2009 at 16:51

    Nepotism, like tribalism, is a cancer that destroys societies. You this cancer is especially destructive in smaller countries where ruling families take over and run these countries into the ground through selfish family nepotism. Just look at
    most of Latin America. You’ll never rid society of nepotism, because blood is always thicker than water, but only dynamic societies avoid the pitfalls of family chauvinism.
    Dynamic societies need fresh talent and new energy for the demands of new opportunities. Only a society open to talent will make opportunities available to
    all. You can’t avoid nepotism, but you can manage it with dynamic societies where
    change is the driving force. Note:,historically conservative societies, be it socialist
    or otherwise, suffer most from nepotism. Look at Africa, or the Eastern European
    communist countries, Latin America, (even Italy) or the Middle East…call it nepotism or tribalism, or family ties, you’ve got problems. Strong families are good for society
    yet when family ties destroy civil society, the greater society suffers….

  38. 46 rr
    October 14, 2009 at 16:52

    It’s nepotism if there’s a more eligible candidate… And Jean Sarkorzy seems a tad underqualified at 23…

  39. 47 Andrew in Australia
    October 14, 2009 at 16:53

    If you own your own business, even a large corporation, in that case aren’t you allowed to have who you want to fill a position within your organisation? I would do that if I had a company, unless my progeny was a complete dud (Rupert Murdoch dumped son Lachlan hor a spare son!). Even so in family businesses you want your own there filling the ranks.

    Of course there are public institutions or non-private companies where simply getting a job because of family connections is dubious, but it happens and it happens when friends and associates are given that helping hand too. Look at politics for a brilliant example… A leader or minister sends work one way or promotes people within government so that when their term is up, those same they helped with lucrative government contracts offer them directorships or consultancies.

    It happens everywhere and no doubt will always happen, just that some cases make the news while the majority don’t. You will never get rid of it only minimise it in some places, but it is here to stay.

    • 48 Catherine
      October 14, 2009 at 17:12


      I do follow your point. But The president Sarkozy just said that “What counts in France is not to be born to a wealthy family, but to have worked hard and to have proved your worth through your studies and your labour.” Do the recent facts back up his says? I don’t think so.



      • 49 Sri
        October 14, 2009 at 17:36


        Which politician can come to power saying “I am here for power over you and for your money. Give it to me and we can all be happy”? That is the ultimate motive whether we like it or not. What you quoted only matters till a politician gets the ‘position’.


      • 50 Tom K in Mpls
        October 14, 2009 at 18:19

        Sri, actually US President Bill Clinton was caught, supposedly off mic, stating he could handle peoples money better than they could, we should give it all to him. I got a chuckle out of that and he was reelected.

    • 51 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
      October 14, 2009 at 19:27


      Nepotism can happen & will always continue to exist but there’s a differences between state own business & the family/private enterprise because state does belong to the country at large whereby every citizens of that state must have equal say & rights in a decision making unlike by private entrepreneurship where everything would lay within your powers.France is a Democratic country & should therefore be abide by democratic norms & principle.

  40. 52 Singaporean
    October 14, 2009 at 17:10

    We in singapore , learned to accept nepotism. The PM ‘s father was the PM , his family holds all the top jobs since. Say it and you can become persona non grata. No judge has ever ruled against him.

  41. 53 Jessica in NYC
    October 14, 2009 at 17:26

    There’s nothing wrong with nepotism, so long as the position the sons and daughters are being handed on a gold platter is the family’s to give away. A private sector may appoint whoever they see fit to head its company, because they are gambling with their own money and authority. A public sector is regulated by the government, because it affect the country’s citizens and their tax payer dollars.

    President Sarkozy is behaving recklessly toward the French people by appointing his 23 year old son too a top financial post, so wonder we are in such a financial mess.

  42. October 14, 2009 at 17:26

    Everything is wrong with nepotism. It grants the best jobs to the least qualified, promotes inefficiency and is the best recipe for the failure of any organisation.

  43. 55 Sri
    October 14, 2009 at 17:31

    If I were being idealistic, I would say Nepotism should be condemned. But practically, nepotism has been a way of life as many of you have suggested, not just in ancient Egypt, but in the more recent bureaucracies.

    Many employees stayed with their employers for their entire careers, got their sons and daughters jobs with the same company. It was one of the reasons why people opted to work for a certain company a generation ago. It is only now that the trend of changing jobs has come into place and everyone seemingly hates nepotism. But hey, would any of you let the chance go if there is an opportunity that could employ your kith and kin? This is the practical side of Nepotism, whether you like it or not.

    The higher the parent’s stature, the higher we risk due to Nepotism. But then, who knows if the son is capable or not? Some are born with a silver spoon but that does not mean they are imbecile!

  44. 56 Catherine
    October 14, 2009 at 17:37

    to Jessica in NYC

    Yes indeed the point is that EPAD is a public organisation dealing with state regulations. On top of the situation we have to keep in mind that there is on going discussion about the reorganisation of Paris urbanism.

    It is not only about JS position but also about his influences or/and Sarkozy junior’s influence as a President in local matters.

    Nepotism always existed and always will the question is what message that situation is sending to less democratic countries constantly criticised?

  45. 57 Catherine
    October 14, 2009 at 17:38

    I meant Sarkozy senior

    • 58 Jessica in NYC
      October 14, 2009 at 18:32

      It’s absolutely true, nepotism sends a hypocritical message. The west prides it’s self in democracy, yet nepotism in the public sectors is equal to that of a dictatorship. (I understood you meant S Sr.)

      It’s true, especially in government when those in high positions control and wheel a lot of influence. It’s extremely dangerous. This reminded me of the media attention Obama received when he was in France and how he avoided being photographed with Sarkozy so not to give him “free” media coverage during the french election.

  46. 59 Eileen in Virginia
    October 14, 2009 at 17:43

    @Steve: who claims this is ”the problem with socialist governments”, nepotism is not confined to socialist politics.
    Nepotism exists everywhere and is as old as the pyramids.
    The children of successful film actors don’t struggle to get parts. The offspring of rich businessmen don’t start work in the post room. At every level of society, who you know works more effectively than what you know.

    Pitt the Younger was Chancellor of the Exchequer at age 23 and Prime Minister at 24. He had a successful career in politics as well as the headstart from his family connections.

    Appointment to such a prestigious position before young Sarkozy even graduates smells of nepotism, but he and Papa will get away with it if they can. Useless to throw one’s hands in the air, but it may be effective to sign the petition.

  47. 60 Mike in Seattle
    October 14, 2009 at 17:46

    I’m surprised that this example of nepotism is so blatant. I would have expected the family connections to be used to quietly secure an internship at a company friendly to the Sarkozy Administration.

    As to the question of nepotism in political families, how could you even avoid it? Even in cases where son or daughter is trying to make their own way, there will always be people trying to earn the favor of the political family at large.

    At the same time, we all use family and friends to try and secure jobs, only we call it “networking” not “nepotism”.

    It just happens that the connections made from a political family tend to be more valuable than most.

  48. 61 Gary Paudler
    October 14, 2009 at 17:52

    Getting an audience with somebody in a position to offer a job thanks to one’s parents isn’t nepotism. Being hired because Le Papa orders it is. Who is going to discipline or fire the son of the most powerful man in the country? He will be unchallengeable unless he embarrasses his dad or causes a scandal. It’s not a sink or swim opportunity, it’s unfair to more qualified candidates, unfair to Junior and unfair to the country.

    October 14, 2009 at 17:58

    Wait a minute there is a difference between a large privately owned company and a Government organization. If its some Ceo who build up a large company from scratch and he fills it up with friends and family well that’s ok its his money. But government gets their finances and indeed power from “we the people” and they must be held to a higher standard.

    We all remember the fiasco of the Bush administrations response to Hurricane Katrina and the person in charge of Fema” Michael Brown” whose only qualification for the position was being a Buddy of George W Bush’s,

    You could argue that as a direct result of his inexperience people’s lives where lost.

  50. 63 Shannon in Ohio
    October 14, 2009 at 18:02

    Years ago, I briefly worked for a county agency that was hobbled by incompetant and lazy workers who landed their jobs because their daddies had sway. The few of us who were actually hired because we were qualified grew to loathe this pack of idiots. They routinely sauntered in two hours late, and spent their days, as far as I could tell, gossiping, sharpening pencils, and enjoying prolonged martini-soaked lunches. My heart goes out to those deserving French workers who never even had a chance to interview.

  51. 64 subra
    October 14, 2009 at 18:05

    The practice of nepotism is the scourge of society. All those countries prioritising nepotism are found mired in poverty, underdevelopment , fraud, corruption and bad- governance.
    To think of France’s President Sarkozy who has been preaching good governance and democracy, descending to such a low level as practising nepotism, is undoing his integrity.
    In an advanced democracy like France, meritocracy and equal opportunity can’t be relegated to insignificance. It’s shameful not only for the protagonists but the french as a whole because they have been always setting the good examples.

  52. 65 Anthony
    October 14, 2009 at 18:06

    Like everything, things should be based on merit, but its hard to ignore the instinct that tells us to take care of and favor our own children.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  53. 66 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    October 14, 2009 at 18:06

    Nepotism is BAD because:

    >it breeds complacency,
    >it provides certainty of job & income while the rest of society does not have it,
    >it breeds inefficiency due to guarantees of security…..etc.

    However, there ARE exceptions as there will always be kids of rich and/or powerful people who are genuinely hardworking, intelligent etc.

    Nepotism is also akin to reverse discrimination as is the case in India with respect to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This reverse discrimination creates more problems than solutions.

  54. October 14, 2009 at 18:14

    The disaster known as George W. Bush was brought to us by nepotism. He was elected governor of Texas solely because of father’s fame as President (and various other high-level positions prior to that). George W. Bush would never have been elected governor, and then president, on his own merits.

    • 68 Steve G
      October 14, 2009 at 21:09


      The disaster knows as Barack Obama after criticizing Hillary Clinton during the campaign for not having any foreign policy experience later appoints her to be our Sect’y of State. It is an embarrassment.

      I guess nepotism is acceptable…under certain circumstances. If you are appointing an inexperienced “friend of the party” to pay off a political debt then it’s ok.

      • 69 Tom K in Mpls
        October 15, 2009 at 03:07

        Of course he criticized her. They were opponents in a race. He appointed her because she is qualified ( and doing well ), it also makes it harder for her to face him in 2012.

  55. 70 Mike in Seattle
    October 14, 2009 at 18:16

    I’d like to turn the question around a bit with a hypothetical situation:

    Say you have a member of the family who is having trouble finding work, maybe a daughter or brother in law, someone like that. You know they’re smart, qualified and they work hard, but they can’t get their foot in the door. You know that things are rough for them, but you can help them get a job.

    Who here wouldn’t help them get a foot in the door or put in a good word on their behalf? It’s certainly nepotism, but I’m having a hard time finding the situation to be morally wrong. How do the folks reading the blog or speaking on the show feel about this?

    • 71 Tom K in Mpls
      October 14, 2009 at 18:21

      A foot in the door is one thing. This is a top position.

    • October 14, 2009 at 18:50

      Not immoral Mike, unsavoury perhaps,when someone is promoted over your head,because of their mummy or daddy,or they belong to the same club. Historically the despots that have turned up because of nepotism could qualify as immoral but only to people who suffered.

  56. 73 Bert
    October 14, 2009 at 18:20

    Most people seem to feel that nepotism is bad, as I generally do, but was there such a furor when Robert Kennedy was appointed as Attorney General? Right after Jack Kennedy took office, in 1961?

    There may have been. I’m just asking.

    In this case, I don’t think the position is anything more than ceremonial. One would have hoped that by age 23, Jean would have his college degree. But at least, he’s working on it! The outcries are oh so politically motivated, seems to me.

  57. October 14, 2009 at 18:29

    Nepotism and connections go hand in hand when it comes to securing a position. People not born in a family with influence or a good background have to look for connections to have a good position. One of the shortest ways is to join a political party, a club or an association. There is also the possibility to rise by stooping to those above one’s position to get to the desired post.

  58. 75 Lew in Ohio
    October 14, 2009 at 18:30

    Its about meritocracy, at my place of employment the boss’s son was in school for law that relates to our field but he did not recieve help from the ceo he earned his postion on his own. This is how it should be and I’m not saying america isn’t full of nepotism but we strive to get the best person in the best spot to optimize their talents.

  59. 76 Shuvankar Mukherjee
    October 14, 2009 at 18:31

    Nepotism is not acceptable in the field of social, political positions. It’s alright to have better upbringing but it’s not alright to outsmart better people because of who your father is.
    Right Man For Right Job, Right.
    Nepotism is as old as human society, but it is not a modern societies trend. Indian politics and governance standard is a sham because of it.
    Dynasties are undemocratic. period.

  60. 77 Jw in Belgium
    October 14, 2009 at 18:31

    Aren’t we confusing nepotism and networking?

    Nepotism is appointing an incompetent friend to general manager, where he will proceed to make a mess of things. Introducing your friend and then letting him be judged on merit is networking, and is merely a way of getting your foot in the door (as Mike says). The first should be discouraged, but the second is how the majority of jobs are filled if I’m not mistaken.

    The difference is in how the introducee is judged – on merit, or by their connections.

  61. 78 jens
    October 14, 2009 at 18:33

    Tom in the USA,

    at least George W was kind of elected and not just appointed…..

  62. October 14, 2009 at 18:36

    Overall nepotism is bad.
    Funny,I associate nepotism and chronyism with the BBC,the quality of the output suffers,a lot of presenters and programme makers are sons,daughters,nephews or siblings of employees or former employees. Sometimes children of famous people are employed just for a bit of name recognition.
    Sarcozy jnr was active in politics in his own right,he married well,he is young,good looking and ambitious alot of people are jealous they envy his success,maybe there is also some anti semiticsm due to his jewish roots and his wifes family religion.

    • 80 subra
      October 15, 2009 at 05:52

      You call a person who is placed on the top rung of the ladder by the father success. Strange!!
      This is what is wrong with nepotism and people hate it. If you struggle to achieve success everybody will applaud not when you are aided by the strong arms of the dad.

  63. 81 Tom D Ford
    October 14, 2009 at 18:37

    In my opinion I would bet that if President Sarkozy is brazen enough to be this corrupt in this area, he most likely has a lot of other areas of influence that ought to be investigated for corruption also.

  64. 83 Shuvankar Mukherjee
    October 14, 2009 at 18:39

    Networking not necessarily gives you advantage over others, its more like sharing information but when it leads to unfair advantage it is indeed NEPOTISM.

  65. 84 Francisco, from Huelva - Spain
    October 14, 2009 at 18:39

    I think is completely unaceptable that a boy who is only 23 with no experience and still an student is given such a post, while people spend a lot of years even the whole life trying to find a dream job or one that fulfill their expectancy. Sarkozy is wrong allowing this.
    Congratulations for the program

  66. 85 Pedro
    October 14, 2009 at 18:40

    Networking is as bad as nepotism, IMHO. When you’re hiring someone, you should actually look at one’s skills regardless of whether one was pointed by a friend of yours or not.
    I have already seen people who relied on networking for getting new employees and they regretted it a few months after.

  67. 86 Helder Cortez
    October 14, 2009 at 18:43

    I’m from Brazil. Here in Brazil nepotism is the favorite tool of many people who are in any kind of important position in a private and/or public sectors. They do so to mostly to emply people with no qualification. The most amazing thing is that these people usually don’t even care to learn how to do the job…they just kick back and relax knowing that someone is backing them up!

  68. October 14, 2009 at 18:45

    Networking, in my opinion, is when the person looking for the position or job goes out to seek advantages from the person or persons who is in a position of power in hiring and/or attaining the position. Nepotism, is when the original person or persons in power, seeks and gives the job or position to someone they know, whether it be family or say political donators.

  69. 88 gary
    October 14, 2009 at 18:47

    You may give anything you own to your family, howver close or diffuse that family may. You may not give that which is mine to your family, and what is mine may be an opportunity or it may be a choice.

  70. 89 Yvan Alleau, Corvallis, OR
    October 14, 2009 at 18:48

    I think that what is not addressed in the show right now is the fact that nepotism is the attribution of a job to someone only because you know him/her and not solely based on his/her qualifications/merits. On that prospect, Jean Sarkozy should not get the job.
    At equal qualification, I do not see anything wrong in giving the job to a known person, as this provides this person with a plus versus an unknown individual.

  71. 90 Mike in Seattle
    October 14, 2009 at 18:51


    I totally agree, the appointment of Sarkozy is irresponsible and rather crass to be honest.

  72. 91 Rotraut
    October 14, 2009 at 18:51

    I have been born and educated in Western Germany in the sixties and seventies of last century. At school, I was taught that in East Germany children of the intelligentsia, i.e. doctors, lawyers, scientists, were not allowed into universities because of the academic background of their parents. These children had to go to work in factories, in the production. Children of non-academics were encouraged to go to university.
    The PISA studies about education in the OECD countries show for Germany a tendency for children from low education background fairly bleak prospects whereas for children from families with academic background it seems to be quite easy to reach the highest levels of education, regardless of their intelligence.
    Nepotism, networking? Isn’t there some form of prejudice at work here that affects children both ways: allowing them careers and obstructing ways of development?
    Rotraut, NL

  73. 92 jens
    October 14, 2009 at 18:58


    networking is essential, since in a network you know who has what kind of capabilities. High level jobs are not just given on the basis of who knows who, but also who knows who does the job well. in addition, one forgets that a group of people who knows one another is more likley to trust one another and is therefore capable of working well together.

  74. 93 Deborah
    October 14, 2009 at 18:58

    I am from Mauritius, nepotism has been part of my life since I was a child. I never made it in the legal world there. I deeply suffered from it. I believe that Sarkozy has put himself into a difficult situation especially for his son who will need to prove that he is fit for the job.

  75. 94 Tom K in Mpls
    October 14, 2009 at 18:59

    Okay, there are degrees of nepotism, a guaranteed interview is one thing. Very acceptable IMO. A guaranteed job is another. Sometimes the parent is right and the child is a very good fit. Unfortunately the only time you can accurately criticize is in hindsight. In general, the parent needs to be held to a greater level of accountability, if it can be done.

  76. 95 ciprian
    October 14, 2009 at 19:00

    Nepotism is wrong. I live in Romania and here this is how things are often done . When this go against competency the entire society will loose. Poor business performance will follow and everyone will suffer. When we talk about nepotism in state own businesses this can be seen as corruption. This is wrong with nepotism.

  77. 96 Judy in Seattle
    October 14, 2009 at 19:01

    Regarding you reading the George Bush comment. I beg you to stop feeding the Bush bashing that is never ending on WHYS.
    Bush’s elections have nothing to do with nepotism and the comment is simply an excuse to continue whining.

    I do appreciate the comment comparing nepotism to networking. As such isn’t Obama’s Czar positions, which are not elected or vetted, a perfect examples of nepotism.

  78. 97 Steve G
    October 14, 2009 at 19:06


    The US Secretary of State is the wife of an ex President. Does anyone believe that that important position could have been earned by her based on merit. Come on.
    Wake up and smell the coffee. The only time she left the USA before being “appointed” was to get away from her philandering husband.

    Nepotism is wrong and rampant. It is in France, and everywhere else. We do our best to weed it out, but it is normal for people to help their family.

    • 98 Tom K in Mpls
      October 14, 2009 at 20:06

      Actually, Clinton has proven to be reasonably qualified and successful. If she has failed, please point it out to me. She is a career politician and it has been a long career. Also, she was appointed, according to law, by a party opponent to help guarantee she would not run against him in the next election.

      IMO, this was an excellent move by Obama, on every level. And no, I do not like Obama.

  79. 99 Lamii Kpargoi
    October 14, 2009 at 19:10

    Hi Madeleine,

    I’m actually posting from Monrovia, Liberia and not Keyna as you’ve just said on the show.

  80. 100 Bruce Kirk
    October 14, 2009 at 19:25

    I hope this young chap is good enough for the job in terms of his capabilities despite his age and credentials. But I think his appointment should not be stained with his family line

  81. 101 jens
    October 14, 2009 at 19:27

    steve G,

    could it be that she is the secretary of state despite rather than because of her husband? Hillary is a highly qualified woman/person in her own right and is doing a great job…..

  82. 102 Boubacar Askofare
    October 14, 2009 at 19:36

    African should be more worried by now, knowing that Sarkozy (Father for the moment) is the one who influences our “leadres” (cases of Bongoss, Eyademas, Kabilas, Ben Ali, Wad, and many others !!)
    I am really astonished by UMP and generally french people reaction to nepotism they seem not to understand while they know how their governments behave in Africa, supporting that same think which is for sure the biggest explanation for African failure. It seems that contamination works also in this sphere. Good save Africa
    Bouba from Africa

  83. October 14, 2009 at 20:54

    We have Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu,India whose-
    *Elder son is a Federal Minister
    *Another is Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
    *Daughter through companion an MP in federal Government
    *Nephew is a Federal Minister.
    * A grand daughter is an important functionary in the party
    *TV channels get all privileges from both federal and State governments
    *net worth of the above two is upwards Rs 2000 Crores( $= Rs 48 appx)
    This man has come to Madras with hardly any money till he entered politics;he was a screen playwright prior to his present position

    You decide nepotism is a way of life or not.

  84. 104 Linda in Italy
    October 14, 2009 at 21:57

    I can’t believe this confusion between nepotism and networking. Apart from the fact that nepotism specifically refers to members of the family (nephos = nephew), the definition of networking presented on air was far too slanted. My OED defines this verb as “communicate or foster relationships with a network of people, esp. for personal advantage”. In other words it is not per se unjust or corrupt.
    As a freelance translator, geographically isolated in the South of Italy, my lifelines are the online professional forums I contribute to. In order to participate it is necessary to have the right academic and professional qualifications, irrespective of parentage or tribe, therefore, in that sense we are all equal. By making useful contributions to the discussions and using our own experience to offer assistance to fellow members we create a profile for ourselves and if any jobs are going, we may well benefit by getting an early foot in the door. This also enables us to keep in touch with the profession and helps our own development.
    Any advantage we may gain from this networking is down to our own commitment to devoting time and effort to making a useful contribution, albeit with in the hope of furthering our own career. This can in no way be confused with nepotism.

  85. 105 Ronald
    October 15, 2009 at 04:34

    There is no doubt that children would get a helping hand from their dads; children tend to follow their fathers’ footsteps. But that is not nepotism. If the child of a doctor becomes a doctor, before he becomes a doctor, he has to prove himself by passing all the exams. No doubt, that child, growing up in that environment might have the advantage of imbibing the philosophy, attitude and frame of mind of being a doctor, compared with say the son of a waiter, nevertheless, he has to pass exams.

    George W. Bush, becoming the President of the USA is not nepotism. He was elected. He might be in a position to take advantage of his father’s connections, and he might have the advantage of knowing how the system works from an early age, his father did not appoint him to that post. So that was not nepotism.

    I would be interested to know how Sarkosy’s son came to be appointed to that position. This really smacks of nepotism.

  86. October 15, 2009 at 05:28

    I wonder why BBC should really pose this question as if nepotism is something nove or uniquel in Britain. Has the BBC forgotten how Margaret Thatcher’s son ‘rose’ and a few years back was fined after pleading guilty over his involvement in an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea? As a matter of fact there is quite a global boom in nepotism whether in the USA, the UK, France or in India.

  87. 107 Guruprasad P
    October 15, 2009 at 06:14

    It is nothing new or astonishing to us,Indians.Dynasty politics has endured last six decades and let me assure it continues,whether it is in Central or State politics in India.
    Now it is happening in France… Say Jai Ho to Nepotism.

  88. 108 osuagwu
    October 15, 2009 at 06:37

    The issue might not be nepotism. Jean Sarkozy seems to be a politician in his own right.

  89. 109 Karamagi
    October 15, 2009 at 08:09

    It’s a shame! Worse still, Jean is a law student; doesn’t their syllabus contain lessons on administrative procedure?

  90. 110 paulmarkj
    October 15, 2009 at 10:24

    “The US Secretary of State is the wife of an ex President. Does anyone believe that that important position could have been earned by her based on merit. Come on.”

    Clinton was a senetor for 8 years and the wife odf the president for 8 years before becoming secretary of state. Before being a senator, and before meeting Bill Clinton, she was viewed as a prospect for senetor and possible president. (She was was encouraged to follow a political career by the democratic party).

    Her priviliged backgorund gave her opportunities, no one is denying that, but she also has huge experience and talent.

    What experience does Jean Sarkozy bring to his job?

  91. 111 paulmarkj
    October 15, 2009 at 11:02

    “I don’t see why people are stating that at 23 someone has no experience or doesn’t have ability to succeed at such a job. It would seem to me that having someone young; with fresh ideas, determination, etc. could be more of an benefit than someone who was older.”

    I think you are bieng ageist: whay can’t a 40 year old have fresh ideas? I have plenty – and I am 48. Ideas are cheap – many people have them. Ideas that work – and can be implemented – are a rare currency.

  92. 112 Moeka From Freetown
    October 15, 2009 at 12:58

    If you have any reason to think that all bad and nagative things only happen in africa well you have been proved otherwise.
    We cant deny the fact lots of bad things still happen in africa but not blatantly like what is happeing in France..

  93. 113 Beden
    October 15, 2009 at 14:00

    If this was in Africa the Frech would make a lot noise. Nepotism is vice affecting all regard less of whether you are in Africa =, Europe, Asia or America. They saying is true that says “BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER”.

  94. 114 Shehu Usman Dikko
    October 15, 2009 at 15:06

    Anybody with any inkling of sense knows nepotism is bad for all things. The fact that it has been practised historically or currently does not make it tolerable.

    It stifles ambition and competion and poisons the polity and other social structures.

    Please fight it wherever you see it.

  95. 115 Aisha
    October 15, 2009 at 16:13

    Nepotism is not African, merely human! Guess Mr Sarkozy is human after all!

  96. 116 John LaGrua/New York
    October 15, 2009 at 22:02

    Nepotism robs the truelly talented and qualified from a fair opportunity to compete on a level playing field..The impact on organizations is destructive ,effecting morale and dicouraging ambitious candidates from joining ..The benficiaries of the nepotism know that others consider them less than deserving and are resented.Organizations ,ultimately deteriorate for lack of talent .,Performance suffers ,.governments run by nepotists fail.through corruption and inefficiency .Witness the problems of dictatorships,North Korea ,Saudi Arabia .Putin’s Russia and the US under G.W.Bush are a variation on the theme.Competition is essential to produce the best qualified candidates for any position ,public or private.

  97. 117 Elias
    October 15, 2009 at 22:27

    Put it this way, if its a family business then sure its OK, but when it comes to governments and politics it is absurd for the President of France to give his son so high a position, it simply means his son got it with the influence of his father. What next, should the President’s wife be installed as minister for women’s rights or other, this would be going from the rediculas to the sublime. In politics a person has to earn his right to a high position not just move into it by his influential parent.

  98. 118 barry
    November 2, 2009 at 00:49

    whether in quebec or france, they live up to their reputation for family and liguistic nepotism while at taxpayers expense. i have found it demoralizing enough working in private industry , doing the grunt work while relatives and friends from”back home”
    screw the pooch so to speak. since it’s the boss’s money(and not a government grant), i’ll just move on to better employment at the slightest opportunity.
    but if the boss is a governmental official, then it’s graft ,embezzlement or misappropriation of public money.

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