Revenant Sarkozy takes to stage in conservative bid for Paris city hall

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France holds nationwide local elections beginning next weekend, in the most significant test of the country’s political parties since Emmanuel Macron’s election as president in 2017 and the thumping victory of his LREM party in ensuing parliamentary elections. In the two-round polling, the prize catch will be Paris, where the conservative Les Républicains hope to wrestle power from socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo. Their candidate, Rachida Dati, held her last campaign meeting this week when her political mentor, Nicolas Sarkozy, made a rare public appearance. Despite being under investigation in several serious corruption probes, the former French president, surrounded by his old guard, received a rock-star reception from an enraptured audience. Lucie Delaporte witnessed the extraordinary scenes.

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It was billed as the last public meeting in the campaign led by Rachida Dati, the conservative Les Républicains party candidate to become the next mayor of Paris in municipal elections which begin next Sunday. But many in the long queue which had formed more than an hour before the gathering on Monday evening at the Gaveau concert hall in central Paris had turned up less to hear Dati but rather to applaud a rare public appearance by the mentor who shaped her political career, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.