• France edition
 
Opinion
'Only a court can stop a Sarkozy comeback'
Photo: AFP

'Only a court can stop a Sarkozy comeback'

Published: 20 Feb 2013 18:19 GMT+01:00

Nicolas Sarkozy has kept a low profile since being unceremoniously kicked out of office last May, but that has not stifled the coverage given to him in the French press. Every week, the man nicknamed 'Sarko' appears in the news as a former political ally evokes the idea of a comeback, or a poll is published revealing how desperate his supporters want him back.

Last week, former Prime Minister Alain Juppé became the latest high profile politician to suggest that Sarkozy will make a dramatic bid to reclaim his place in the Elysée Palace in the 2017 presidential elections.

But can the man who once riled the French with his 'bling bling' style really make a comeback and wrestle the presidency out of the hands of François Hollande? French journalist Neila Latrous, co-author of "The UMP a merciless world"  thinks so.

Can Sarkozy really make a comeback in 2017?

“It’s a real possibility and I think it will happen. He is young, only 58 years old and there is a real nostalgia around Sarkozy, which can be seen in the publication of these polls. A recent survey revealed 75 percent of those people who voted for him in the last election want him to come back.

Why is there such a strong feeling for him among his supporters on the right?

Those on the right never understood why Sarkozy was defeated in the last election.  They say it was not a real defeat. They believe there was a conspiracy against him, led by the media. For his supporters he has unfinished business with the French people. They think he was in the process of reforming France and that the country was in a stronger position on the international scene, with Sarkozy in charge. Five years was just not enough for them. They think he can come back and beat Hollande.

Is there enough support within his own party?

Obviously, potential presidential candidates like François Fillon and [current UMP leader] Jean François Copé would not want to see him back running for the presidency, but he has plenty of support across the party. There is also the group Les Amis de Nicolas Sarkozy, which was set up by his allies. I don’t know if they are plotting how to get him back into politics, but they will provide a launch pad for him when he returns. The most important thing you need to run a campaign for the presidency is money, so Les Amis de Sarkozy will act as a way of finding financial resources for a Sarkozy campaign.

There is also the fact the UMP party does not have any real leader after the bitter leadership battle between Jean François Copé and François Fillon last autumn. The re-run of their election in the autumn of this year will be a sham. There’s no one at the UMP who can possible replace Sarkozy, so that presents him with a chance.

Sarkozy's 'bling bling' image did not endear him to French voters - won’t this be the same in 2017?

It’s true that this could be a handicap for him, but one of his close advisors told me they are working on this problem. They want to try and make his relationship with the French people less impassioned, and their aim is to build up his image and create a more reasonable relationship between him and the French public.

When will the comeback happen and how?

I think if he wants to come back then he must do it between March 2014 - after the municipal election - and before autumn 2016, when the right will hold primaries for the presidential elections. A lot will depend on the municipal elections. If it’s the worst case scenario for the UMP — for example, if they lose key councils, their candidate is not elected mayor of Paris, and if some politicians make agreements with the National Front — then Sarkozy could come back before 2017. It will likely start with him appearing on TV shows, saying how much he misses leading the French people and leading the government. 

What about the impact of legal cases that Sarkozy is implicated in, like the Bettencourt scandal and the Karachi affair?

Well, I spoke recently to one of his close advisors, who has said that only the courts can stop him from coming back. Sarkozy has to wait for these legal cases to be solved. What the advisor fears most is that cases like the Bettencourt one will run on and on and will not be decided before the elections.

And does he actually stand a chance of winning the election?

Well, a lot will depend on the economy. If there is high unemployment and François Hollande has not delivered everything he promised during his presidential campaign, then yes, Sarkozy can win. With the current crisis and rising unemployment levels, people might start to think that things weren't so bad under Nicolas Sarkozy, and not everything was his fault. Also, the policies of François Hollande have not been markedly different to those of Sarkozy, so there is a certain amount of disappointment with Hollande, which will help the former president.

Neila Latrous co-authored the book "UMP a merciless world with Jean-Baptiste Marteau. The pair also wrote "Tragic dance at the UMP" about the bitter battle between François Fillon and Copé.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris
Photo: Frank Fife/AFP

Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris

Argentina produced a tactical masterclass to beat France 18-13 at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. READ  

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with President Francois Hollande. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived in Chad late Friday at the start of a two-day regional visit, in a show of support for a French-led anti-jihadist force. READ  

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup

The temporary head of French drugmaker Sanofi insisted the firm still had a bright future Thursday, declaring there was still "a driver in the seat" despite a sudden change in leadership. READ  

EU could give France until 2015 on budget
France's Finance Minister Michel Sapin. File photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

EU could give France until 2015 on budget

The EU could delay a decision on France's budget overshoot until early 2015 instead of making a ruling next week as expected, sources said on Friday. READ  

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves
How does the actress Julie Gayet match up against Yvonne de Gaulle, Claude Pompidou, Anne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing, Danielle Mitterrand, Bernadette Chirac, Cecilia Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? Pho

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves

With François Hollande’s romance with Julie Gayet apparently blossoming, the actress looks set to become France's latest unofficial 'first lady'. Writer Amaryllis Barton takes a look back at her predecessors to see how they matched up. READ  

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'
Ten reasons why the French can be proud of France, (according to the government).Photo: AFP

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'

France has come in for a harsh criticism recently whether it's from British CEOs or budget chiefs in Brussels and Berlin. But the government has taken it upon itself to hit back by publishing ten reasons to be proud of the country. How many do you agree with though? READ  

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit
Kader Arif was a junior minister for veteran affairs. Photo: Alain Jocard/Pool/AFP

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit

A junior French minister resigned on Friday as a scandal implicating him in the awarding of lucrative public contracts to members of his family hit President François Hollande's Socialist government with another bruising. READ  

France gets a new map, but what's the point?
France is to get a new map, but what is the point of it all? Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France gets a new map, but what's the point?

After a long and passionate debate about reducing the number of France's regions, the National Assembly finally voted for a new map with 13 regions this week. But after all the fuss, what's the point of the reform and is there any point to France's regions? READ  

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris
Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AFP

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris

Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of dictator Kim Jong-un, a judicial source said Friday. READ  

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris

UPDATED: HSBC Private Bank, the Swiss subsidiary of British banking group HSBC, said on Friday it had been placed under formal investigation as part of a French tax fraud probe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win your Christmas list: €250 at Marks & Spencer
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

489
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description