Alain Juppé puts name into frame for French presidency
Former PM's move seen as an attempt to stop the possible return of Nicolas Sarkozy to frontline politics
Wednesday 20 August 2014
The French presidential race began in earnest today, with almost three years to go before election day.
The centre-right former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, 69, announced that he will be a candidate in his party’s primary elections in the spring of 2016, 12 months ahead of the 2017 election proper.
His decision to make an early declaration was aimed not so much at the struggling Socialist president, François Hollande, as at the former centre-right president Nicolas Sarkozy. Political commentators said that Mr Juppé was trying to cut the ground from beneath the feet of his colleague and former boss, who has been hesitating for months about a possible return to politics.
Mr Juppé is seen by many moderates on the right and centre of French politics as the best bulwark in 2017 against the high-flying leader of the far right Front National, Marine Le Pen – and against the return of Mr Sarkozy.
Despite his many legal problems, Mr Sarkozy is considering running this autumn for the vacant presidency of the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) a party racked by allegations of financial wrong-doing. If Mr Sarkozy wins the party presidency – as he might – he believes that he should become the de facto presidential candidate for 2017. Plans for a US-style open primary in 2016 should, therefore, be abandoned.
The officially “retired” Mr Sarkozy, 59, remains hugely popular with UMP members and might easily reclaim the party presidency. He is less popular in the electorate at large and would struggle to win a nationwide primary campaign.
By throwing his hat into the ring for a primary that does not yet exist, Mr Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux and a former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, is attempting to outwit the former President.
In a blog on his website, Mr Juppé presented himself as the best man to heal divisions on the centre and right of French politics and to check the rise of the Front National. A recent opinion survey suggested that Ms Le Pen might top the poll in the first round of the presidential election in May 2017, leaving President Hollande and a centre-right candidate to struggle for the second spot in the two-candidate second round.
In his blog, Mr Juppé said that the quarrelsome French centre-right must unite behind a strong candidate in three years’ time. “If we are divided, the outcome of the first round will be uncertain and the consequences for the second round unpredictable,” he wrote.
Mr Juppé is a rare example of someone who rose from a modest background to reach the highest levels of French public life. He was for many years the right-hand man to former President Jacques Chirac who once described him as “the best amongst us”.
In 2004 Mr Juppé was convicted for the illegal use of public money. He was given a suspended jail sentence and a brief ban from politics, which prevented him from emerging as a possible rival to Mr Sarkozy before the 2007 presidential campaign.
Although a poor public speaker and a moderate TV performer, Mr Juppé’s intelligence and moderation are widely admired. His main obstacle to a successful run will be his age.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 1 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Cocaine and cannabis haul hidden in Vatican car seized by French police
Scottish independence referendum live - The reunited kingdom: Scotland gives a clear 'No' to independence in historic referendum
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...