Could France see the return of Nicolas Sarkozy?
A bitter UMP leadership election last November was left unresolved after Francois Fillon and Jean-Francois Cope both claimed victory. While Cope was eventually declared the winner, both sides alleged fraud and new elections were slated for this year. They are yet to materialize. With Fillon and Cope still battling it out, would a Sarkozy return cause more divisions or could he be a unifier? Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy and once a staunch ally, told the JDD weekly paper this week, “I cannot take on all the consequences of a presidential candidacy and not be in conflict with Nicolas Sarkozy, given his state of mind. De facto, we are in competition.” Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Natixis Asset Management, said Sarkozy would do best to bide his time before making a comeback. “He will be impatient to be the leader of the UMP, but if he does that too rapidly there is a risk that French citizens reject him. For me, the best strategy would be to come back in politics in 2016 as the man who could unify his party,” Waechter said. He added that while Sarkozy was popular within the UMP, he was less so outside: an Ifop survey in July revealed that 70 percent of the population believed Sarkozy would run for president in 2017, but only 40 percent actually wanted him to do so. As Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC, “He is a deeply, deeply polarizing figure in France.” Spiro took a similar line to Waechter, saying that it was too early for Sarkozy to bid for the UMP party leadership, and that with the party facing an insurgency from the French far-right, he would not want to divide the party further by interfering. Spiro added: “Being the leader of a major political party in the current economic environment is a poisoned chalice. Will Sarkozy now represent a headache for the unpopular Hollande administration?
“Yes, of course, things change so quickly. Even when you’re in (the squad) there are no guarantees you’ll stay,” he said. “It’s better to be called up as often as possible rather than staying at home for whatever reasons. I’m full of determination and confidence and hope to be in the team on Friday and Tuesday.” He has not played a full 90 minutes since the penultimate game of last season for Newcastle. “But I’ve trained a lot. I feel good, I lost weight over the summer and I’m ready to play,” he said. “Maybe not 90 minutes in both games, but I feel good. I played most of the game at the weekend.” Newcastle coach Alan Pardew accused Arsenal of showing a lack of respect by lodging a bid for Cabaye only hours before his team’s opening Premier League game against on Aug. 19 – a 4-0 loss against Manchester City. Cabaye missed it because Pardew said he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play, and he only made his first appearance as a substitute at home to Fulham 12 days later, amid reports that he had refused to train. Some fans jeered him when he came on, although others backed him.