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Sarkozy: I may have a 'duty' to return

Sophie Inge · 6 Mar 2013, 10:00

Published: 06 Mar 2013 10:00 GMT+01:00

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In an exclusive interview with right-leaning weekly magazine 'Valeurs Actuelles' ( Values of today) to be published on Thursday, former President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that any comeback would be purely out of duty to his country rather than a desire to return to the top of French politics. 

"Unfortunately, there will be a moment where the question is no longer "Do you want to?" but "Do you have a choice?" he told the magazine.

And with the French economy likely to remain in the doldrums for sometime Sarkozy may feel that he has no choice but to return to the fold.

"In this case, I can no longer continue telling myself that I am happy taking my daughter to school and talking at conferences all around the world. Indeed, in this case, I am obliged to do it. It's not because I want to.”

Extracts of the interview were widely published across French media on Wednesday including on Europe1 radio, which described Sarkozy as adopting "a Gaullist position".

In the interview the former leader dispelled allegations that he was seeking revenge following rival President Hollande's victory in the 2012 election, insisting it was "out of duty. For the sake of France alone". 

Rumours of a 'Sarkozy 2017' campaign have been circulating since February with reports that the ex-President continues to meet with member of a group of former UMP allies known as 'Friends of Sarkozy' on a regular basis.

One of Sarkozy's strongest allies, former Prime Minister Alain Juppé openly predicted 'Sarko's' return in an interview with France's parliamentary channel LCP in early February.

"I sense that he has a desire to put himself forward," Juppé told LCP.

He added: "He follows political news with a lot of care. I speak to him on the phone and I see that he's staying watchful."   

In December, Sarkozy, former leader of the UMP attempted to resolve the party’s leadership dispute between François Fillon and Jean-François Copé, confirming for many that he was still the main man among France conservatives.

Story continues below…

In an interview, political author Neila Latrous told The Local that there was a "real possibility" of Sarkozy standing in the 2017 elections. However, she was unsure if he actually stood a chance of winning. 

"A lot will depend on the economy," Latrous told The Local. "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."

Will Sarkozy be successful in 2017? Read the full interview with Neila Latrous.

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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