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Right-wing voters want Sarkozy back in politics

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-08-22

Conservative French voters want former President Nicolas Sarkozy back at the helm, according to a new poll. Sarkozy recently broke a long silence to accuse President François Hollande of lacking leadership on the Syrian crisis.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy continues to enjoy overwhelming support among conservative voters, following his recent call for stronger leadership from Paris on the Syrian crisis.

An IFOP poll published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche on August 19 found that 53% of voters who support his centre-right UMP party want Sarkozy to be their candidate in the next presidential election in 2017.

Of those polled, 40% said they would welcome his return “especially if he tackled new areas of policy”, while just 7% said they did not want him back in politics.

Sarkozy has kept a low profile since he was ousted by Socialist rival François Hollande in May’s presidential election.

Before the vote, he said that he would quit politics permanently if defeated.

But on August 8, he stuck his head above the parapet for the first time in three months to criticise Hollande’s leadership on the Syrian issue, arguing that military intervention was needed to end the crisis.

In 2011, Sarkozy led calls for military intervention in Libya, which ultimately contributed to the downfall of ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarkozy’s criticism of Hollande was followed up by his former Prime Minister François Fillon who called on the new president to “be a bit braver”.

Fillon, who argued for stronger diplomacy rather than a military option, is seen as the favourite to win the party leadership vote due in November.

Sarkozy told the Journal du Dimanche that “my return is not on the agenda ... for the moment” and that he was “putting himself out to pasture for two or three years.”

According to the newspaper, former President Edouard Balladur has advised Sarkozy to avoid any political comment “for at least a year” as the best way to prepare for an eventual return to politics.

Sarkozy’s plan for his eventual return is to play “hard to get” while his party recovers from the double defeat of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

“Sarkozy’s strategy is clear,” the Journal du Dimanche said. “He wants to make himself desired rather than rushing headlong back into the political fray.”

Date created : 2012-08-20

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