Sarkozy’s Future: “A Frenchman in France”

PARIS – Before his humbled and disappointed constituents Sunday evening at the Palace Elysée, Nicolas Sarkozy made clear that his time as a political candidate was over. While he did not explicitly resign from politics altogether in his concession speech, he declared that “Another time begins. In this new era, I will remain one of you. You can count on me to defend our values. My place will no longer be the same.” He assured his audience he would not disappear into the shadows like his predecessors: “My commitment will be different now. I’m about to become a Frenchman among the French.”

It is unclear what this new role for Sarkozy will entail. In his final days before Sunday’s vote, Nicolas Sarkozy was silent on his post-election future. Even early in the afternoon on Sunday, in spite of bad results from overseas and the first exit polls, Sarkozy told colleagues: “Do not be misled, the rate of error is still too high.” The Front National voters were still a dark horse voting block for Sarkozy, but by 7pm local time in Paris, UMP knew that victory was no longer attainable.

Nicolas Sarkozy was conciliatory towards his successful competitor in the aftermath, thanking the French people for “the honor [they] have given me in having chosen me to preside over our country for five years” but telling his voters that “François Hollande is the President and should be respected.” Despite his own withdrawal from the legislative process, his conciliatory tone may prove strategic in ensuring that UMP is not labelled as extremist or rhetorically aligned with Marine Le Pen’s Front National during next month’s legislative elections, a direction many critics claim Sarkozy’s own discourse took in his final weeks.

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