posted at 22:50
Author Name: Fran Blandy
Sarkozy tipped to lead party in new charge for French presidency
"Staying in the background when everything is going so badly would be cowardice, the opposite of my idea of political commitment," Sarkozy told a political meeting on the eve of the vote. Pollsters expect Sarkozy to sail through the election despite his much-heralded return to politics largely seen as having fallen flat, with his tangle of legal woes continuing to dog him. The vote pits Sarkozy against main rival Bruno Le Maire - a former minister and senior party figure - and lawmaker Herve Mariton. Chief among these is his former colleague turned arch-foe Alain Juppe, a popular politician and one-time prime minister who served as defence and then foreign minister under Sarkozy. Deeply unpopular at the time of his 2012 election defeat and known as the "Bling-bling" president for his flashy style, Sarkozy is hoping to capitalise on the fact that his "Mr Normal" successor Hollande is now even more disliked by French voters than he was. "But Sarkozy I think has grasped this brutal logic that getting hold of a party may not guarantee you the presidency, but not getting hold of the party almost rules you out." Knapp said Sarkozy's bid for the presidency is "Partly an act of revenge for a defeat which he has never fully accepted". For Sarkozy, the presidency also offers immunity from prosecution for a tangle of legal woes in which he has always denied wrongdoing.

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