France’s Nicolas Sarkozy is back, but for how long?

 

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy returns to the political stage on Monday to appeal for support for his debt-ridden party, as a poll suggests that three out of five French people are opposed to him running for office.

Mr Sarkozy is due to address an emergency meeting of his centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party which is threatened with bankruptcy after France’s top constitutional court rejected his expenses for his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year. The UMP has one month to find €11m (£9.47m), or half of the total campaign expenses which would otherwise have been reimbursed by the state, had the UMP not tried to exceed the legal limit it can claim.

A poll, in the Journal du Dimanche, found that 59 per cent of those surveyed did not want the former president, a polarising and impetuous figure who was known as the “hyper-president”, to compete in 2017. The same poll also said that seven out of 10 French think he will decide to run for another term.

Despite the court ruling being a devastating setback for Mr Sarkozy, his popularity with grassroots supporters was evident at a UMP gathering on Saturday. There, party leader, Jean-Francois Copé, announced that almost €11m had been raised since the party launched an appeal for donations following the court decision last week.

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