Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REVISITED

In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

¡Gracias, Gabo!

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Socialist rebellion grows

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

REPORTERS

Indian election: Votes for sale

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Can Weibo win over US investors?

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Captain not at helm when ship listed, South Korean officials say

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Low turnout reported in Algeria as Bouteflika seeks fourth term

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

France

Sarkozy 'sowing the idea of a political void'

© AFP

Text by Stéphanie TROUILLARD , Rachel HOLMAN

Latest update : 2013-03-08

Less than a year out of office, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appears to have taken a calculated step toward re-entering French politics, carefully constructing an image as a reluctant soldier called to return 'for France'.

Just 10 months after he was voted out of the Elysée palace, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appears to have broken his vow to withdraw from politics in taking a small but strategic step back into the spotlight.

There have been rumblings that Sarkozy may attempt to stage a comeback for weeks, with former foreign minister Alain Juppé telling France’s Parliamentary Channel LCP in mid-February that he had a “feeling” his old boss planned on running for president again in 2017.

Yet despite all the hints and suggestions, Sarkozy kept a low-profile on the issue, allowing anticipation to build up around him. The former president finally broke his silence on the possibility of a return to politics in an interview with the right-leaning weekly Valeurs Actuelles, which hit newsstands on Thursday.

“It’s the first time he has planted any ideas about his return to politics himself. Up until now, the people around him and ‘The Friends of Nicolas Sarkozy’ [an organisation of politicians dedicated to upholding his legacy] have laid the groundwork for him. But now he’s opening up the possibility, even if it’s not a firm commitment,” Arnaud Mercier, a political communication professor at the University of Lorraine, told FRANCE 24.

While Sarkozy maintained that he had no personal desire to wade back into the political scene, he did say that he may be forced back into his old profession out of “duty”.

“Do I honestly want to come back? No,” Sarkozy said. “There will unfortunately come a time when the question will no longer be ‘Do you want to?’ but ‘Do you have the choice?’”

“In that case, I will be obligated to take it on. Not out of desire. Out of duty. Only because it’s about France,” he added.

A calculated move

In the interview, Sarkozy comes off as a true patriot and reluctant soldier resigned to the possibility he may once again have to take up arms for the greater good.

“He’s positioning himself as a Gaullist figure,” Mercier said. “He doesn’t want to appear as someone ambitious who just couldn’t accept defeat. To the contrary, he has presented himself as a politician who is there for his country.”

Sarkozy’s remarks couldn’t have come at a better moment. France’s socialist President François Hollande, who beat Sarkozy in the country’s May 2012 election, has watched his approval ratings plummet since taking over the Elysée.

According to a recent survey by France’s BVA opinion and polling centre, 68 percent of French voters are disappointed with Hollande’s performance, while 51 percent also said they felt Sarkozy would have done a better job had he won re-election.

What’s more, an extremely public power-struggle for control of the country’s right-wing UMP, to which Sarkozy belongs, has left the party without an appealing candidate come 2017.

With much of the country apparently disappointed with the state of political affairs, Sarkozy’s popularity has only grown.

According to Mercier, his decision to speak about his future in politics now, no matter how tentatively, was no coincidence.

“It’s too dangerous for him to stay out of sight until just before the primaries and say nothing for the next two years,” Mercier said. “[Instead] he’s going to sow the idea that there is a real void and that he’s the best person to fill it. He wants to keep things in place for a bit and prevent his opponents from organising themselves.”

As strategic as Sarkozy’s comments may have been, Mercier went on to say that he believed the former president when he talked about being weary of politics, adding that if a comeback happens in the next four years, it would be under very particular circumstances.

“He doesn’t want to be just another candidate,” Mercier said. “He sees himself coming back amid calls for his return.”
 

Date created : 2013-03-07

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy says he may return to politics 'out of duty'

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Half of France misses Sarkozy as Hollande disappoints

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Chirac’s wife urges Sarkozy to reclaim presidency

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)