Former premier Dominique de Villepin said Thursday he was dropping his bid for the French presidency after failing to get enough signatures to qualify as a candidate, a move that could benefit President Nicolas Sarkozy, a fellow conservative.
REUTERS - Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin bowed out of France's presidential race on Thursday after failing to get the required number of official signatures to register his candidacy, a move that could benefit President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Villepin, a conservative rival of Sarkozy who quit the UMP party last year to publish his own centre-right manifesto, had been credited with between 1 and 2 percent of voting intentions for the first round ballot on April 22.
De Villepin - A Portrait
"I'm still around 30 short," he told France 2 television in an interview.
He refused to say whether he would form an alliance with another candidate, adding only: "Alliances aren't in my nature."
Villepin, who was prime minister of France under former President Jacques Chirac, has a long-standing political rivalry with Sarkozy, which reached its peak in 2008 in the so-called "Clearstream" affair.
The case saw Sarkozy accuse Villepin of trying to discredit him in the run-up to his 2007 election campaign by being involved in the publication of a forged list of names linking Sarkozy to secret Luxembourg accounts.
Villepin was acquitted of all charges by an appeals court in September 2011.
Date created : 2012-03-15