Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed that he will seek presidential nomination from his party despite his tainted past.
Sarkozy, 61, a polarising figure who served one term as president before losing to Socialist candidate François Hollande in 2012, has been damaged by a string of corruption allegations mainly related to the manipulation of electoral laws during his campaigns.
In 2014, Sarkozy was detained and probed by the police for his alleged involvement in several corruption cases.
To clear legal impediments for the presidential election race, Sarkozy announced that he will be stepping down as leader of the Les Republicains party. He advised the party leaders to elect suitable candidate for the party slot.
As per party rules, Sarkozy wouldn’t be eligible even to run in the primary race if he remains chairman. Supporters of Les Republicains will vote in November to choose a candidate for the 2017 French presidential election.
The primary will also be open to members of other centre-right (allied) parties. Around a dozen party members have already declared their candidacies.
Sarkozy would also face strong opposition from his tough rival for the primary race, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister. Juppé, 70, is considered to be a strong presidential candidate due to his public popularity.
As per local European media, the winner will be up against the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and a yet-to-be-announced Socialist candidate, which is likely to be incumbent French President Francois Hollande.
Sarkozy has seized on uncertainty resulting from the UK’s Brexit vote to portray himself as the best candidate to deal with an EU crisis.
Sarkozy, who recently authored a book, called for a friendly competition.
— Nicolas Sarkozy (@NicolasSarkozy) July 2, 2016
“This primary will be a time of competition between some strong personalities,” he was quoted as saying. “When the Right goes into battle, it has a front on the Left and a front on the extreme Right. That is why it is unacceptable that we should attack each other.”