Sarkozy to formally stake presidential claim

24th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 23, 2006 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy, France's hardline interior minister, said Thursday he would officially unveil his presidential ambitions — whether or not he would seek his party's candidacy — next week.

PARIS, Nov 23, 2006 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy, France's hardline interior minister, said Thursday he would officially unveil his presidential ambitions — whether or not he would seek his party's candidacy — next week.

"I will say next week what I want to do and what I'm proposing," he told commercial television network TF1.

Sarkozy, the chairman of the ruling conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), has made no secret of his hope to succeed current head of state Jacques Chirac in elections next year.

His bid to get the party's nomination has been widely expected, especially after the party's political bureau on Wednesday agreed to start accepting candidacies, up to December 31.

The official candidate will be invested at a party congress on January 14, following a vote of the UMP's 300,000 members.

Sarkozy is the UMP's most popular politician and is running neck-and-neck in polls with Ségolène Royal, the opposition Socialist candidate who won her party's primary last week.

The presidential election, to be held in two rounds, on April 22 and May 6, is widely predicted to be a duel between Sarkozy, 51, and Royal, 53.

However in recent weeks, Sarkozy has seen his support slip as a long-running feud between him and Chirac stymied his plans to be named the UMP's candidate.

Chirac, 73, has said he will not announce whether he will retire or stand for a third mandate until early next year, and has encouraged two of his allies, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to position themselves also as potential candidates.

An IPSOS poll this week showed that Sarkozy has the backing of 77 percent of party sympathisers, compared to 17 percent for Alliot-Marie and just six percent for Villepin.

In the TF1 interview, Sarkozy said he encouraged Alliot-Marie, Villepin and "all those who think they have something to say" to present themselves as candidates before the party.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article