Facing election shipwreck, Sarkozy 'friends' rise up

With the right-wing UMP party predicted to lose the parliamentary elections, French conservatives are embracing former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

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As conservative leaders in France contemplate a likely defeat in parliamentary elections in June, some among them have rallied around an unlikely figure: defeated former president Nicolas Sarkozy, reports France 24.

The Friends of Nicolas Sarkozy Association was formally established in Paris on Wednesday, fuelling ongoing speculation about the uncertain future of France’s political right. Sarkozy, who lost the May 6 presidential runoff to Socialist rival François Hollande, repeated before and after the vote that he would quit politics if he was defeated.

According to a statement prepared for the press, the mission of the new organisation includes being “vigilant to the way the [Sarkozy] record while in office is represented in public discourse,” and “upholding the ideas and values that he defended during his mandate.”

Brice Hortefeux, a former interior minister under Sarkozy and the head of the new group, told reporters that the former president’s friends would gather in a congenial spirit, and that they did not intend to weigh in on UMP party politics.

The former president has in fact limited his public appearances to a minimum even as his right-wing UMP party faces an uphill campaign to maintain its majority in the lower-house National Assembly.

However, the strangely timed launch – less than two weeks ahead of the legislative vote and amid media reports of an internal UMP war of succession – made observers wonder if many in Sarkozy’s party are hoping to head off an eventual fraction within their camp.

Read more of this report from France 24.

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