Juppé presidential bid throws Sarkozy comeback off kilter

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Former French prime minister Alain Juppé on Wednesday announced he will run to be his conservative UMP party’s candidate in presidential elections due in 2017. The surprise declaration by the 69 year-old Gaullist veteran has upstaged his main rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was widely expected to announce a return to political life in the coming weeks. More importantly, Juppé has forced Sarkozy into a primary contest the latter hoped to avoid, and which threatens his ambition of re-claiming the presidency he lost in 2012. Hubert Huertas analyses the upset caused by the risky move of a man who as at last taken the lead after playing second fiddle during almost 40 years in politics.

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The surprise announcement this week by Alain Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux, one of the longest-serving veterans of the French Right, a former prime minister who has also held five ministerial posts, that he is to run to become his conservative UMP party’s presidential candidate was a political move equivalent to an uppercut on the chin of his main rival, Nicolas Sarkozy.