Sarkozy Wins Party Leadership With Eye to Presidency

Sarkozy Wins Party Leadership With Eye to PresidencySarkozy Wins Party Leadership With Eye to Presidency

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected head of the opposition UMP, in what is being seen as the start of a new bid for the presidency.

Sarkozy gained 64.5% of the vote, well ahead of his nearest rival Bruno le Maire.

He was under pressure to win by a wide margin, and hoped to get more than 70% to keep his re-election hopes alive.

The UMP has struggled to be effective in opposition to Francois Hollande, despite the president’s dismal ratings.

Sarkozy, 59, won 85% of the vote when he was first elected party leader in 2004.

He served as president from 2007 and 2012 but left active politics after his defeat to Hollande.

More than 150,000 party members - over 50% - voted in the election, despite the process being slowed down by a cyber attack.

The UMP will choose its nominee for the 2017 presidential elections in two years, but analysts say a lower than expected party vote for Sarkozy could encourage other UMP leaders to stand against him.

Sarkozy is disliked by some French voters for his unusually high-profile private life, with critics branding his one-term tenure as the “bling-bling” presidency.