The political comeback of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy came to an abrupt halt on Sunday night, when he placed a disappointing third in the contest for his party’s 2017 presidential nomination.
Sarkozy had been expected to quality for a runoff next week together with Alain Juppé, a former prime minister.
But Sarkozy’s own former premier, François Fillon, surged into first place, winning 44 percent support with 3.2 million of the votes counted.
A major foreign-policy issue that divides the top three contenders for the French right’s presidential nomination is Russia.
BuzzFeed reports how Nicolas Sarkozy has transformed himself from a Vladimir Putin critic into a Vladimir Putin apologist since he lost the presidency in 2012.
The former president has criticized President François Hollande’s handling of relations with Russia. He argues the EU should suspend sanctions against Russia. And most controversially, the former president has endorsed a referendum annexing Crimea to Russia, a view that puts him at odds with most UN states.
François Fillon, Sarkozy’s former prime minister, has struck a conciliatory tone as well.
He told the magazine Valeurs actuelles this week it was “fortunate” Russia had intervened in the Syrian conflict, otherwise the self-proclaimed Islamic State might have reached Damascus by now.
Polls suggest former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing strategy to win his party’s presidential nomination is not paying off.
After the seven Republican candidates vying to replace François Hollande, the Socialist Party incumbent, next year participated in the first televised debate of the primary last week, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister, remained in the lead with almost 40 percent support.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been gaining ground in recent weeks on his centrist rival, Alain Juppé, for the right’s presidential nomination.
One poll in June for the first time put Sarkozy ahead with 54 percent support against 28 percent for Juppé.
That seemed to be an outlier. Other surveys put Sarkozy’s first-round support closer to 30 percent against 40 percent for Juppé. But even those numbers are an improvement from March, when Sarkozy’s support languished in the low 20s.
The heightened security atmosphere in France, following a spate of Islamic terrorist attacks, has played into Sarkozy’s hands.
The two leading contenders for the French right’s presidential nomination are drawing different lessons from the EU referendum across the Channel.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president who sees the Euroskeptic Front national as the biggest threat to his party, Les Républicains, argues that Britain’s exit is a wake-up call for the rest of Europe. He wants sweeping treaty changes to take power away from the European Commission and create a joint Franco-German presidency of the eurozone.
Sarkozy has previously called for a revision of the Schengen free-travel area to make it harder for immigrants to cross the bloc’s internal borders.
His rival, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister who appeals more to French voters in the center, agrees that Europe needs to take a step back. He has proposed a pause on enlargement and wants fewer rules coming out of Brussels.
But he also argues now is the time to reinvigorate the European Union with new purpose. “For France, Europe doesn’t make sense if it isn’t a political project,” he writes.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is hoping to return to power in an election next year, has endorsed the concept of a two-speed Europe in an interview with Le Figaro, saying new treaties “must take into account the existence of two Europes: the Europe of the euro and the Europe of the 28.”
The former ought to share an economic policy and monetary fund, the conservative leader suggested. The outer-tier Europe, including Britain — which Sarkozy wants to keep in the EU — would focus on agriculture, competition, energy and research.
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron launched a political movement on Wednesday that he says aims to unite people from the left and the right around a program of reform.
Macron, nominally a Socialist, denied that the movement is meant to propel him into a presidential candidacy for 2017, but French presidential hopefuls do have a tendency to launch political “movements” one of two years out from an election.
Macron’s announcement comes only days after former conservative party secretary Jean-François Copé launched his own bid for the presidency. The rightwinger fell out with his former boss and current party leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2014 over a financial scandal and would now seek to deny him the Republicans’ presidential nomination.
Neither Copé nor Macron is likely to end up as a presidential candidate, let alone president of France. But the noise they’re making speaks volumes about the perceived timidity of their respective party leaders: Sarkozy and his successor, François Hollande. Read more “Copé, Macron Highlight Timidity of French Parties”
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is shifting his party to the right in the wake of Islamic terror attacks in Paris this month, arguing that multiculturalism has made Western democracies vulnerable to extremism.
The hardline rhetoric may be designed to stave off defections to the Front national, a party on the far right that has said France should exit the European visa-free Schengen Area.
The Paris attacks, which left more than 130 dead, are believed to have been plotted in Belgium.
In his first public rally since the attacks — which President François Hollande of the ruling Socialist Party called an “act of war” — Sarkozy argued there could be no “French identity” in a multicultural society.