Sarkozy draws presidential election spotlight with book

PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to seek a return to the French presidency next year, acknowledged in a book published on Friday that he had made errors and irritated some voters during his 2007-2012 term as president.

Sarkozy, who lost his re-election bid to Socialist Francois Hollande, has not publicly stated that he will be a candidate in 2017, but the carefully choreographed book release is widely seen as the opening salvo of a campaign.

In "La France pour la vie" (France for life), the leader of conservative party, The Republicans, says he was unwise to have celebrated his 2007 election win on a French tycoon's yacht and later in his term to have told a hostile bystander at a farm fair, "Get lost you jerk". He also sketches out a few policies he might propose next year. "With hindsight I can now see how I got people's backs up," Sarkozy says in the book due to hit the stores next week.

A recent opinion poll showed that three-quarter of voters believe Sarkozy's time has passed and another poll showed rival Alain Juppe was twice as popular as Sarkozy as a conservative candidate for 2017.

The first hurdle in that process is a conservative primary contest in November.

The 60-year-old who won power shortly before the outbreak of a global financial crisis and sharp economic downturn also says he should have moved faster to shake up the French economy with reforms to roll back laws such as the one imposing a legal work week of 35 hours.

Abolishing France's wealth tax was another priority, as was a cut in income tax and ensuring that profit tax on corporations was no higher in France than the European average, he says.

Sarkozy also says in the book that despite his misgivings about a law that the Socialists introduced to legalise same-sex marriages, he would not seek to repeal the legislation.

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