Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Sunday, 24 February 2008

Sarkozy outburst at farming fair

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

President Sarkozy at the Paris agriculture fair with, right, Agriculture Minister, Michel Barnier
President Sarkozy said "get lost" to a visitor at the agriculture fair

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been caught on camera swearing at a member of the crowd at the annual farming fair in Paris.

The video clip, which has been posted on the internet, shows a man at the Salon International de l'Agriculture refusing to shake the president's hand.

The man draws back and says: "Oh no, don't touch me, you'll dirty me."

Mr Sarkozy snaps: "Get lost then you bloody idiot, just get lost!" to put it in a mild English translation.

The video was taken as Mr Sarkozy greeted visitors to the fair earlier this weekend.

The encounter has now been posted on the website of the French daily newspaper Le Parisien and has already received thousands of hits.

Low popularity

It's rather unfortunate timing for the French leader whose popularity ratings are already at an all time low partly due to the over exposure of his private life which many French people found distasteful.

The opposition Socialist leader, Francois Hollande, claimed this latest episode showed Mr Sarkozy's behaviour was not fitting for a president.

With municipal elections less than a month away, the annual agriculture fair is a good campaigning ground for the rural vote.

The previous French leader, Jacques Chirac, who spent much time in the countryside, was a popular figure at the show and spent whole days talking to farmers, patting their cows and drinking their local wines.

Mr Sarkozy, though, is very much an urban politician and is also teetotal - he left the fair after just two hours and a single glass of milk.

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