Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy may be gearing up to retake his country’s top elected office, UPI reported, two years after losing to President Francois Hollande. Sarkozy was elected to lead France’s conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) Saturday, garnering more than 64 percent of the vote among the party’s 270,000 dues-paying members.
Sarkozy, 59, defeated former government Ministers Bruno Le Maire and Herve Mariton, but his margin of victory was less than expected, according to election analysts cited by the Associated Press. Sarkozy was under pressure to get at least 70 percent of the vote.
The UMP will not choose its nominee for France’s 2017 presidential election for two years, but the win by Sarkozy is expected to bolster his hopes of running. Sarkozy also won leadership of the UMP in 2004 and ran successfully for the presidency three years later. In the 2004 race, Sarkozy won 85 percent of the vote.
The former president’s second ascent to the top of his party follows corruption charges related to his 2007 campaign that were raised in July and dropped in September. He became the first former president in modern history to be detained by police after being accused of using his presidential power to try to find information about legal proceedings against him in a corruption case. He was questioned for 15 hours by police, The Telegraph reported.
Sarkozy was defeated by Hollande, leader of the Socialist Party, in 2012, but Hollande’s popularity has taken a drubbing recently as the country’s economy has failed to rebound from recession. The European nation’s persistent double-digit unemployment rate has helped make Hollande the least popular French leader in modern history with an approval rating of just 12 percent.