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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in a television interview on Sunday in his first public appearance since announcing his bid to become head of the conservative opposition UMP party, in a move to return as the party’s candidate in presidential elections due in 2017. Apart from his predictably harsh attack on President François Hollande’s record in office, Sarkozy on Sunday made a clear attempt to soften his image, not least among his own ranks, as an abrasive and self-centred figure, admitting to past “errors”, including the belief that “one can succeed alone”. For after his defeat in 2012, a number of members of his former government rounded on Sarkozy as being, variously, “impulsive”, “narcissistic”, “cut off from reality”, and “obsessed by money”. Ellen Salvi reports on the less-than-flattering appreciations of Sarkozy by those who knew him well, and the surprising turning of coats since his return to the fray.
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