The turning of coats as Sarkozy returns

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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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“Nicolas Sarkozy is today one of France’s problems, among the principal problems that need to be sorted out,” declared former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin in November 2010, during an interview on Europe 1 radio.