The former president Nicolas Sarkozy says that France is plunging into a deep financial and social crisis which will eventually demand a national saviour – himself.
In comments published in a business magazine tomorrow, Mr Sarkozy insists he has no wish to return to politics, which “bore me to death”. He says, however, that he may be forced to run for president once again in 2017 by “serious events”. “There will unfortunately come a time when the question will no longer be ‘Do you want to?’ but ‘Do you have the choice?’” Mr Sarkozy is quoted as telling friends. “In that case, actually, I will be obliged to run. Not because I want to. But from a sense of duty. Purely for the sake of France.”
The right-wing business magazine Valeurs Actuelles says the comments were drawn from a series of conversations between Mr Sarkozy and his friends and “visitors”. His timing is intriguing. President François Hollande, who defeated him 10 months ago, has plunged to the lowest approval rating of any French president in modern times. Unemployment is rising. The economy is becalmed.
Perhaps more significantly from Mr Sarkozy’s viewpoint, his former Prime Minister, François Fillon, declared last week that he intended to run for president in four years time.
Although Mr Sarkozy officially retired from public life after last year’s defeat, his friends – with his tacit approval – have been keeping alive the prospect of his return. The comments quoted by Valeurs Actuelles are the clearest sign so far that Mr Sarkozy is considering a come-back – but not before the next presidential race begins in 2016.