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Sarkozy hints at return to French politics

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attends the French Ligue 1 soccer match where Paris Saint-Germain plays Olympic Marseille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested he could return to politics, not out of a desire for power but out of a "duty" to the French people.

Right-winger Sarkozy, defeated by Socialist President Francois Hollande in May, told weekly business magazine Valeurs Actuelles that he may have no choice but to return.

"There will unfortunately come a time when the question will no longer be 'Do you want to?' but 'Do you have any choice?'," Sarkozy said in an interview to be published Thursday.

"In this case I won't be able to keep saying: I'm happy, I take my girl to school, I go to conferences all over the world," he said. "In this case I will be required to go. Not by desire. By duty. And only because it is France."

Defeated after a single five-year term, Sarkozy withdrew from politics following May's presidential vote, saying he wanted to spend more time with his ex-supermodel wife Carla Bruni and their newborn daughter Giulia.

His right-wing UMP party has since struggled to find a successor, nearly splitting over the choice between Sarkozy's ex-prime minister Francois Fillon and party chief Jean-Francois Cope.

Sarkozy, 58, is hugely popular with party rank-and-file and many have urged him to make a comeback in the 2017 presidential vote.

His remarks came with Hollande suffering record low approval ratings as he struggles to revive France's stagnant economy and reverse rising unemployment.

A poll by firm IFOP released this week showed Hollande with an approval rating of only 37 percent, a six-percent drop from a month earlier.

 
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