French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared that he will quit politics if he loses power in the forthcoming presidential elections.
If I lose, I will give up politics. Yes, that's a certainty, Sarkozy was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper. I will rebuild my life completely. You will never hear of me again, he said.
However, Sarkozy, who has yet to enter the race, didn't intend to reveal his Plan B to the public when he spoke off the record to his friends who happened to be journalists, during a visit to French Guiana last weekend.
The French president had earlier admitted to his aides that the strong poll position of his rival and Socialist Party frontrunner Francois Hollande meant his days as President could be numbered.
The most recent poll results released Wednesday showed that Hollande would secure 31 percent of votes while Sarkozy would get 25 percent in the first round and the Socialist contender would beat the President 60 percent to 40 percent in the run-off round.
In any case, I am at the end, Sarkozy told aides and a pool of accompanying reporters in off-the-record comments leaked to the French media Tuesday. For the first time in my life I am facing the end of my career, he said.
Despite the leaked comments suggesting that the President has already given up hope, Sarkozy has officially stated that he is confident of returning for a second term because, according to him, the support for Hollande will melt away in February.
Unofficially the senior members of Sarkozy's centre-right party UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), aren't hoping for a comeback, after Hollande's back-to-back stubborn performances in polls, reported the Independent.
However, rumor has it that Sarkozy revealed his Plan B to his journalist friends deliberately, in an attempt to build an image that of an ordinary man, who isn't desperate to cling to power.
According to a longtime adviser to Sarkozy, however, the President was simply being honest. Sarkozy always says what he thinks. He said he hopes to win but he could be beaten; it's simply the truth. It's a big discovery, yes, but he's not daft, the unnamed source told Reuters.
Imagine if he had told them there is no chance he could be beaten - the headline would have been 'This guy is crazy', he said.
Sarkozy, who began his political career at the age of 23, took France by storm in the 2007 presidential election. Known for his policies aimed at revitalizing the economy of France, Sarkozy suffered a huge blow when the international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded France's AAA credit rating this month.