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Facing dismal poll numbers, the man once renowned as a force of nature in French politics says he may end his career not with a bang but a whimper.
Speaking to reporters during a weekend visit to French Guyana, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would end his political career if he is not victorious in his bid for reelection in the two-round vote beginning in April, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reported.
“In case of failure, I am quitting politics. Yes, that’s a certainty,” Sarkozy was quoted as telling reporters. “At any rate, for the first time in my life, I am faced with the end of my career.”
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Elected France’s 23rd president five years ago in a stunning upset to the European republic’s entire political establishment, Sarkozy is currently very unpopular among the French public with recent polls all putting his approval rating barely north of 30 percent. The Paris daily Le Parisien reported today that the share of the French public who find their leader “presidential” has dropped 21 percent since January 2007 to 46 percent.
Surveys cited by Reuters indicate the Socialist leader François Hollande would win by a ten percent margin if elections were held today.
Sarkozy has yet to officially announce his bid for reelection
According to Reuters, Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet downplayed down the comments as a "non-event" and said the media were misinterpreting them.
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Reuters said this month’s credit downgrade of French sovereign debt (from AAA to AA+) was “seen as a huge blow for Sarkozy.”
According to the news agency, far-right leader Marine Le Pen is gaining support due to France’s economic woes, creating the possibility that she could win enough votes to contest the presidency in a run-off in May 6, as her father Jean-Marie did in 2002 to the shock and dismay of much of French society. Their party, the Front National, campaigns on a platform of hostility to immigrants.