French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has stepped down as Interior Minister to focus on his own election campaign, with less than a month to go before voters go to the polls. After months of resistance, the ruling UMP conservative candidate finally leaves the job in which he made his name as a law and order hardliner.
“As I said this morning, there is a lot of nostalgia and a little sadness. But for me, what is it about? Simply, to try to change paths,” said Sarkozy, in a jovial farewell speech. Sarkozy hands over the reins to former overseas territories minister Francois Baroin.
During the handover ceremony, Sarkozy joked with Baroin. Sarkozy leads the presidential race ahead of Socialist Segolene Royal. With 30% in the latest opinion poll, the 52-year-old is five points in front, suggesting he may leave as minister but return as president.