French President Sarkozy has been accused of banning tall workers from being at a factory walkabout ~ because they will make him look too short. It seems Mr. Sarkozy suffers painful periods of personal doubt and conflict when his delicate frame is contrasted to those of more robust male specimens. This is known in psychiatric, or comedic, circles as the "Chihuahua syndrome".
It's hard work looking like an imposing statesman when you're only 5ft 5in.
Nicolas Sarkozy has resorted to standing on a box and even rising on to his tiptoes to disguise his height ~ or rather the lack of it.
But for a televised speech at a major industrial plant, the French President and his aides were taking no chances.
The 5ft 5ins tall leader is alleged to have sent aides to the plant ahead of an official visit, to stop anyone over 5ft 6 ins from appearing alongside him.
The claims come just a week after Mr. Sarkozy was reported to have banned tall bodyguards from his presidential protection team.
Mr. Sarkozy, who wears platform heels to disguise his size, was visiting an aeronautics factory near Toulouse. A local paper the Republique des Pyrenees said he sent two staff to there first to 'whittle out the tall ones'.
One unnamed engineer working there told the paper: "I am almost six feet tall, and I was told I was not allowed near the official reception group."
The paper commented: "It seems people at the factory decided it was better to yield to the president's wishes than face exile to the land of the pygmies."
Last year Mr. Sarkozy was accused of deliberately picking short people to appear alongside him in TV footage on another factory visit. The claim was made by a woman who said she was chosen to stand next to the 5ft 5 ins French president when he visited Faurecia car plants site in Normandy because she was shorter than him.
The woman told the French media afterwards: "It was designed so that no one appeared bigger than the president. Mr. Sarkozy wants to look like a tall, impressive statesman and thinks nothing of altering reality to suit this. Access to the factory was restricted so that no one could be shown alongside him."
Mr. Sarkozy has an extreme case of this problem, also known by the name "Napoleonic complex" which was, they say, the reason Napoleon became such a fierce fighter and leader ~ to compensate for his 5/6" stature. Even so that makes him a full in taller than Sarkozy.
In May 2009 Sarkozy was pictured using a footstool to make a speech during the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.
The decision to use the six inch wooden box is said to have been made because he was using the same lectern as Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and Canadian premier Stephen Harper ~ all considerably taller than he.
The European media has highlighted the comical height difference ~ in addition to their 13-year age difference ~ between Sarkozy and his wife. Bruni, who stands at 5'11", has switched from heels to flat-bottom shoes to make up for the shorty, who is 5'5", the British Telegraph newspaper reports. Media and her fans bemoan that the shapeliness of the former model's legs have suffered in the process.
Earlier this month in an Op-Ed for the New York Times, A. A. Gill characterizes Sarkozy during the G-20 Conference in London:
He is a small man, a Gallic in lifts who can't hide the puffed-up, tip-toe insecurities of his shortness. Almost as if he wanted the world to think he has Napoleon syndrome, he postured and pouted and made arbitrary demands, and drew lines in the sand.
At 5ft 5ins tall in his bare feet, Sarkozy is even shorter than his famous predecessor Napoleon, who was an inch taller.
The president is also one of the world's shortest heads of state ~ only slightly taller than North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, both of whom are 5ft 3ins tall.
The Elysee Palace has always denied any rumours Sarkozy hand picks short people at televised public appearances.
An Elysee Palace spokesman denied the accusation: 'It's totally absurd and grotesque.'