Nicolas Sarkozy, who in 2012 became the first incumbent French president to fail to secure a second term since 1981, announced today that he will seek to lead his party, the conservative Union for a Popular Movement, in what is seen as the first step toward a presidential campaign in 2017.
Americans may remember Sarkozy with a certain degree of fondness. Republicans embraced his rise to power in 2007, comparing his brash style favorably to his predecessor Jacques Chirac, who famously refused to join George W. Bush's coalition of the willing in Iraq. Mitt Romney went so far as to call Sarkozy a potential "blood brother."
Americans may also remember that Sarkozy had a fantastic falling-out with his wife, who was swiftly succeeded by the model/singer Carla Bruni.
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But in France, Sarkozy is best known for his stewardship during the financial crisis. He bore the brunt of voter anger over the economic doldrums that followed — a malaise that was exacerbated by Sarkozy's austerity regime.
Ironically, Sarkozy's successor, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party, is facing discontent within his party and among voters for virtually the same reasons, opening up a space for Sarkozy to slip back into power. And like Sarkozy, Hollande had a highly public split with his longtime girlfriend.
One potential hurdle for Sarkozy? He is facing roughly half a dozen lawsuits alleging corruption.
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