Nicolas Sarkozy has arrived at the investiture meeting that will see him crowned as the Presidential candidate for France’s ruling UMP party. The Interior Minister is sure to get the nomination as he’s the only candidate still standing – some 340,000 members of the UMP were nevertheless invited to confirm the choice in an internet vote that closed at 10 o’clock this morning.
Sarkozy called on his supporters to give a warm welcome to eliminated rivals such as Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. “We can only win if I have the support of everyone and I ask you to show him respect,” he said. “Sectarianism is for others, not for us.”
Sarkozy is currently neck-and-neck in the opinion polls with socialist rival Ségolène Royale. Keys members of his party have rallied to his cause in recent days – raising his hopes of going into the spring elections with a united movement behind him. However current President Jacques Chirac has not ruled out standing against his former protégé. Some 70,000 activists have gathered in Paris to hear Sarkozy’s acceptance speech.