Tags: France | politics | europe | sarkozy

Battle of Opposition Titans Begins in France After Sarkozy Return

Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 08:08 AM

"The match has begun," France's popular opposition politician Alain Juppe said Sunday after his rival and ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy announced his return to the cutthroat political arena.

Both centre-right heavyweights, with their sights on 2017 presidential elections, are keen to restore the image of their UMP party, hampered by in-fighting and scandals from mounting a credible fight against the deeply unpopular Socialist government.

Sarkozy, who finally ended months of speculation over his comeback Friday with an announcement on Facebook, will be standing for the UMP presidency in November, pledging a total reform of the party in a Sunday interview.

Meanwhile Juppe, a onetime prime minister who served as defence and foreign minister under Sarkozy, has said he will stand in the UMP's presidential primaries in 2016.

"I know that today the match has begun," the 69-year-old told a programme broadcast on Europe 1 radio and on i-Tele television.

"Some are trying to make people believe that I will not go through with this. Well I'm going to prove it. You will see in 2016 and 2017."

Meanwhile, in an interview with the JDD weekly on Sunday, Sarkozy lashed out at Juppe, pointing to his age and past conviction for graft.

The former president, who himself is directly or indirectly involved in a tangled web of graft investigations, also made a dig at another rival, his former prime minister Francois Fillon -- who is also eyeing 2017.

"I read that a third of people are interested in my return. That's 20 million people. How well would (President Francois) Hollande, Juppe or Fillon score if the same question was asked of them?" Sarkozy was quoted as saying.

In the interview, he said he would completely reform the struggling UMP party if elected to its head.

"I am going to change the name of the party, put in place a new organisation, install a new generation of people and bring back members and donors to straighten out the accounts," he was quoted as saying.

The battle for opposition supremacy comes at a time when France is mired in a deep economic and political crisis, with Hollande's popularity at record lows.

Sarkozy is expected to be crowned the head of his UMP party with little resistance in November.

But looking ahead to a possible presidential run in 2017, Sarkozy has a much longer row to hoe.

Polls suggest Juppe is the favourite among the French even if Sarkozy remains the most popular within his own camp.

 

© AFP 2017

   
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The match has begun, France's popular opposition politician Alain Juppe said Sunday after his rival and ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy announced his return to the cutthroat political arena.Both centre-right heavyweights, with their sights on 2017 presidential elections, are...
France, politics, europe, sarkozy
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2014-08-21
Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 08:08 AM
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