Sarkozy unchallenged in party's presidential bid

2nd January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 31, 2006 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy, France's ambitious interior minister who hopes to succeed President Jacques Chirac in the next elections, is the sole candidate for the ruling UMP party's nomination, a spokesman said.

PARIS, Dec 31, 2006 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy, France's ambitious interior minister who hopes to succeed President Jacques Chirac in the next elections, is the sole candidate for the ruling UMP party's nomination, a spokesman said.

Sarkozy's candidacy was the only one received by the end of a party deadline Sunday, making him the unchallenged candidate for the conservative Union for a Popular Movement's nomination, spokesman Franck Louvrier said.

Sarkozy, 51, also heads the UMP party, which will officially declare him its candidate in a ceremony on January 14.

Sarkozy's longstanding aim to become president had run up against opposition several times from Chirac himself, who is said to loathe Sarkozy and has seen him as a rival.

The 74-year-old incumbent head of state -- who was to make his traditional end-of-year address on television later Sunday -- has thus far declined to announce his retirement, hinting he could even make a tilt for a third term despite failing health and low popularity.

That scenario appears unlikely, however, leaving Sarkozy's biggest challenge the opposition Socialist Party candidate for the presidential elections: Segolene Royal, 53.

She has emerged as a serious contender to become France's first woman president, and she and Sarkozy are neck-and-neck in voter intention polls for the elections due April 22 and May 6.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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