In an interview published Thursday by French right-wing periodical Valeurs Actuels, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that he has not yet made the decision to make a bid for the presidency of his struggling UMP party. He was equally vague regarding his potential 2017 presidential campaign. Instead, the center-right pol waxed philosophical, noting “the hardest thing is life is not the decision to come back, but to leave… leaving can mean going near or far or even, on the contrary, making a new start.”
Sarkozy’s comments come one month after he was detained on corruption allegations. Nonetheless, his political star may once again be on the rise. According to a July poll, 81% of UMP sympathizers prefer Sarkozy over other UMP candidates, namely Francois Fillon and Alain Juppé. Sarkozy’s overall popularity is increasing as well, up two points to 32% since July. Come November, when the UMP is scheduled to elect a new leader, Sarkozy has a good chance of supplanting the uneasy triumvirate currently at the party’s helm. That said, he will need an overwhelming majority behind him in order to ensure his selection as the UMP candidate in 2017.
But while jockeying for the Elysée will prove more difficult than a bid for the UMP leadership, Sarkozy looks to have already won over a decent percentage of the French electorate; according to yet another poll, this time carried out by IFOP, Sarkozy would win 25% of votes in a snap presidential election. That is, one point behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Once Sarkozy wins over his own camp, look out for a no-holds-barred assault on his opposition.