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France's Sarkozy under spotlight at ruling party gathering

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France's Sarkozy under spotlight at ruling party gathering

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France’s hardline Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is the focus of attention at the ruling conservative party’s annual summer gathering in Marseille. The question on the lips of UMP members is whether Sarkozy, due to speak tonight, would be the right choice as party candidate for presidential polls in eight months’ time.

Although he has not formally announced his intentions, he has already said to be rallying support from the likes of big names in showbiz. Another possible presidential candidate is Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, while embattled Prime Minister and Sarkozy rival Dominique de Villepin is yet to say if he will be in the race.

Ruling party members will decide who becomes their candidate in a vote in January. However, performances at the likes of this weekend’s conference are seen as important tests for potential candidates. The Socialists, meanwhile, look set to have numerous people vying to become that party’s presidential candidate.