French President Francois Hollande is trying to fix the country's debt problems—but he's being foiled just a bit by his predecessor. French taxpayers spend $2.6 million a year, possibly more, on Nicolas Sarkozy's upkeep, Bloomberg reports. That's because former French presidents are entitled to an office, staff, and security paid for with tax dollars and—unlike in the US—no law exists to cap those benefits. It must stick in Hollande's craw a bit, since his austerity measures have made him France's least popular president of the past three decades—and 53% of the country thinks Sarkozy would have done a better job.
The other two living ex-presidents, Jacques Chirac and Valery Giscard d’Estaing, aren't cheap, either, costing taxpayers between $1.9 million and $2.6 million per year, according to one lawmaker's estimate. "It would be considered stingy for a current president to crimp his predecessor’s lifestyle," notes one expert. Some of the perks granted to Sarkozy: A 3,230-square-foot office with at least eight staffers (including Carla Bruni's stepsister), 10 security guards (including two chauffeurs), and a monthly allowance of almost $7,800. Plus, he gets another monthly allowance of almost the same size because he's a lifetime member of the Constitutional Council.