Sarkozy reveals his personal plan B: I'll quit politics entirely if I lose presidential election

But is it all just a double bluff to make him seem less power-driven – and all the more electable?

Paris

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said he will leave politics if he loses in the forthcoming presidential elections.

The disclosure came in a report in Le Monde newspaper which suggested that Mr Sarkozy had been talking to "friends" about life after power. "If I lose, I will give up politics. Yes, that's a certainty," he was quoted as saying. "I will rebuild my life completely. You will never hear of me again."

But it later emerged that the "friends" were journalists to whom the President, who has yet to enter the race, had spoken off the record during a visit to French Guiana last weekend.

Despite poor opinion-poll ratings, officially Mr Sarkozy remains confident of winning a second term in the two-round election on 22 April and 6 May. He believes the opinion-poll lead of his principal challenger, the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, will "melt away" in February.

Unofficially, however, senior members of the President's centre-right party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), were badly rattled by Mr Hollande's energetic and impressive performance at his first large campaign rally last Sunday.

Mr Sarkozy's comments on life after politics may have been intended to help his electoral chances by suggesting that he is an "ordinary man", not someone desperate to cling to power. "In any case [whether in 2012 or 2017], I am approaching the end," he was quoted as saying. "For the first time in my life, I am confronted with the end of my career."

President Sarkozy will be 57 on Saturday. He has been a full-time, professional politician since the age of 28, when he became mayor of a wealthy Paris satellite town, Neuilly-sur-Seine. He is a qualified lawyer and has previously suggested he might "return" to a profession that he has scarcely practised.

In other comments in the past, President Sarkozy has stated he would like to go on to "make a lot of money". Three years ago, he was quoted in the magazine Le Point saying that he would probably not stand again in 2012. "When you see the billions [sic] Bill Clinton is making," he said. "I would like to fill my pockets too... €150,000 a conference!"

It is doubtful, however, whether Mr Sarkozy, who speaks little English, would be able to command such high fees on the American or international lecture circuit. It is thought more likely that he would accept one of several standing offers from friends in the business world.

The President's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, said in 2008 that she would prefer him to serve only one term. She later said she was speaking only "as a wife".

Despite high unemployment and the recent blow of the loss of France's AAA credit rating, the presidential race is far from cut and dried. Mr Sarkozy will announce new measures to boost the economy in a live television appearance on Sunday evening. He is expected to launch his campaign in late February.

Mr Hollande, 57, is predicted by recent polls to come top in the first round on 22 April with 27 to 30 per cent of the vote. Mr Sarkozy is running at around 23 per cent, closely followed by the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen (18 to 20 per cent) and the centrist candidate, François Bayrou (13 to 14 per cent). Only the top two candidates go forward to the second round.

Life after the Elysée: Sarkozy's options

Finance

Following in the footsteps of Tony Blair, who became an adviser to the American investment bank JP Morgan after leaving Downing Street, Mr Sarkozy could seek a lucrative sinecure in the world of high finance. But if he does pursue this avenue, it might be best not to bring up his threats to impose tougher regulation and special taxes in the interview.

 

Writing

A political memoir is the perfect retirement pursuit for a former leader. In one stroke, Mr Sarkozy can amplify his successes, play down any mistakes and settle scores with old political foes. Potential titles include Colossus and Till Debt Do Us Part.

 

Music

If all else fails, Mr Sarkozy could make a foray into the music business by penning a song with his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, a singer-songwriter who appeared on BBC2's Later... with Jools Holland in 2008.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?