Which future for Nicolas Sarkozy? The question can be asked with legitimacy since the defeat of the outgoing head of State, last Sunday.
The UMP (Union pour un mouvement populaire – Union for a popular movement) candidate announced and repeated it: he’ll quit politics if he was disowned by Frenchs. Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed his decision as he confirmed he is not leading the ruling majority for the next June legislative elections, letting the current UMP leaders to do it. What is more, Sarkozy wishes to take some distances.
Nicolas Sarkozy should not suffer of his change of statute immediately: he will continue to benefit some services of the French state, get a special allocation and be able to fly on Air France freely. The outgoing Head of State should survive and support the shock.
Nonetheless, if Nicolas Sarkozy seems to leave politics, some leaders within the UMP still hope he does not turn his back to a thirty-five-year-passion, some considering a possible come-back in 2017, when the party is deeply divided and torn between the ambitions of Jean-François Copé, François Fillon and Xavier Bertrand, all three thinking about the 2017 French presidential election.
I’m quite sceptical on a possible come-back of Nicolas Sarkozy in the future. To make it possible, the UMP should be deeply divided, as it is highly probable. What is more, it is needed some leaders as Copé and Fillon are out of service and agree to put their personal ambitions aside on the belhalf of their party’s interests. It is unlikely insofar as they consider their time has come and Sarkozy as having no legitimacy. At last, the perspective of organizing primaries to choose the one who is going to challenge François Hollande is a sign of the willingness to think about something else.
Besides, few are the defeated heads of State who succeed a political come-back. In most of the cases, this come-back may be a failure as for Lech Walesa, for instance. Former trade-unionist, president of the Polish Republic in 1990, he was defeated by Alexander Kwasniewski, five years after. In 2000, he ran for the Polish presidency but got 1% of the polls only, because of a radically different political context.
So, it is more realistic Nicolas Sarkozy quits politics definitely. Nonetheless, his withdrawal is quite different in comparison with Lionel Jospin in 2002 who left the French socialist party leadership and the Prime minster-ship suddenly, after being defeated in the presidential race in the first round