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Penitent Sarkozy publishes book admitting mistakes in office

© Matthieu Alexandre, AFP | Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is hoping to stand for re-election in 2017

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-01-22

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, hopeful for a return to power in 2017, on Friday released a book detailing his time in office which includes a mea culpa for 27 specific mistakes and misdeeds.

Sarkozy, who ran the country from 2007 to 2012, wrote a long list of admissions in his book “La France pour la vie” ("France for life"), including an acknowledgement of his reputation for being short-tempered. Sarkozy writes that he regrets he "gave in to anger" when he was caught on camera mumbling “casse-toi pauv’ con" – which translates roughly as “piss off, jerk” – to a man who insulted him during an agricultural show.

The term would become a rallying call for opponents who called for his removal from office during the 2012 presidential elections, which Sarkozy lost to his socialist rival François Hollande.

The former president, who heads the conservative opposition Les Républicains (formerly the UMP) party, also admits his failure to get tough on France's famously generous benefits and heavy taxes, saying it was the key reason for his election defeat.

"Today, I regret delaying some reforms that should have been made in the first days of my presidency," Sarkozy wrote.

He admonishes himself for not challenging the 35-hour working week introduced by the Socialists in the late 1990s, or the "solidarity tax on fortunes" wealth tax that targets the richest citizens but is accused by right-wing opponents of driving wealthy people out of the country.

The decision to go on a yachting holiday with a millionaire friend immediately after winning the election – a time when France was plunging into an economic crisis – also makes it on to the list of regrets.

After his defeat in 2012, Sarkozy vowed to disappear from the public eye, saying he was done with politics.

But it took only two years for him to change his mind, returning to lead his newly-renamed party and lining himself up for another possible run at the presidency in May 2017.

But while he remains popular with more right-wing sections of his party for his willingness to challenge some of France's tax-and-spend policies and his tough talk on immigration, he is a hate figure for more left-leaning voters.

The new book makes no effort to hide his ambition to return to the Elysée Palace, but the opinion polls are not looking favourable and he faces a tough primary against his party rivals at the end of the year.

Only 21 percent of centre-right voters said they backed Sarkozy in a poll this week, way behind his main Republican rival, Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, on 45 percent.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-01-22

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