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    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy

    Striving for Comeback: Nicolas Sarkozy Secures French Party Leadership

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    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected the leader of a center-right conservative political party which could serve as a stepping stone for his return to the Élysée Palace in 2017.

    MOSCOW, November 30 (Sputnik) – French Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected the leader of the center-right conservative Union of a Popular Movement (UMP) party on Saturday evening.

    Sarkozy gained 64.5 percent of the vote, well ahead of his nearest rivals, former government ministers Bruno le Maire and Herve  Mariton, who won about 29.2 percent and about 6.3 percent of the vote, respectively.

    The result means Sarkozy will take the helm of the UMP immediately, and will not have to submit to a second round vote next weekend. It came almost exactly ten years after Sarkozy was first elected leader of the UMP in November 2004. He went on to win the 2007 presidential election.

    A widely expected victory could now serve as a stepping stone for his 2017 bid to return to the Élysée Palace.

    Sarkozy lost to François Hollande, the current Socialist president, in the 2012 general election.

    Another French party, the far right National Front, is holding its annual party conference in Lyon over the weekend.

    Speaking at the conference,  party leader Marine Le Pen announced that she is going to strengthen her party’s relationship with Russia, according to the Russian news channel Rossiya 24.

    “We are discussing how we could get closer to Russia, which is a friend to France,” the channel’s website quotes her as saying. “We are thinking about how we could coordinate our energy strategies and set forth economic ties which, undoubtedly, will only strengthen Europe. But instead, Europe is breaking all of its ties with Russia at the behest of the US. And it is weakening us”.

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    France, National Front, Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Sarkozy
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