PARIS (Reuters) – Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy published a new memoir on Thursday but was quick to dismiss speculation he might return to politics to rescue his old centre-right party, which has shed support since President Emmanuel Macron stormed to power.
Entitled “Passions”, the autobiography documents Sarkozy’s rise to power, while hurling barbs at some of his former allies, including his prime minister Francois Fillon.
During his time in office from 2007-2012, Sarkozy earned the nickname “President Bling-Bling” for his brash style and close association with tycoons and celebrities. While at the Elysee, he met and married former model Carla Bruni.
“Passions” is released as France’s centre-right fights for survival two years after President Emmanuel Macron’s election win dynamited the political landscape.
Sarkozy’s old party, Les Republicains, is locked in infighting and struggling to find direction, squeezed by Macron’s centrist party and the far right.
“The book is a political one, it does not announce my return,” Sarkozy told magazine Le Point. “I neither want nor can get involved in a partisan debate. That would sew confusion and division. There is no need for that. It would be misplaced.”
Nonetheless, each new appearance by the last unifying figure of the French right is closely followed – fearfully by those wary of the return of a big-name rival, and hopefully by those who long for Sarkozy’s political reincarnation.
Sarkozy has retired twice from politics: the first time after he lost his re-election bid in 2012. He returned to lead his party in 2014 only to quit again after he failed to win his party’s ticket to run for president in 2017.
Les Republicains are again without a leader after Laurent Wauquiez stepped down following the party’s dismal showing in May’s European election.
Even if Sarkozy were to return to frontline politics, he would struggle to put to one side multiple investigations, including into the financing of his re-election bid.
This month he learnt he must stand trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling in relation to allegations that he offered a judge a promotion in return for information on a parallel investigation.
Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Simon Carraud; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker and Hugh Lawson)