HE HASN’T EVEN declared himself an official candidate yet but Nicolas Sarkozy already lags behind in the upcoming presidential race in France.
Latest polls show the incumbent is well behind Socialist opponent Francois Hollande with just 67 days to the first ballot.
The announcement has been put off but as the other campaigns get into full swing the 57-year-old has to take time out from dealing with the eurozone crisis to catch up.
After delaying as long as possible to ensure French people are aware he is more concerned with the national interest rather than his own position of power, Sarkozy is due to announce his candidacy on national television later today.
According to polls, Sarkozy has a poor 36 per cent approval rating. Despite a strong reputation for international affairs following his central position in the Libya campaign, his first term has been dogged by economic troubles at home. Bloomberg reports that his is now France’s most unpopular incumbent ever.
“If we look at past elections, it’s off to a very, very, very bad start,” pollster Emmanuel Riviere of TNS Sofres agency said of Sarkozy’s campaign. “Never has a president been in such a situation.”
Far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou have also thrown their names in the hat but Hollande has benefited the most from being portrayed as the anti-Sarkozy.
Sarkozy will likely use the eurozone debt crisis – emphasising the need for stability, his relationship with Germany and his leadership within the area - in attempts to secure a second term.
If he fails to win the election, however, he will join the seven other euro-area leaders who have seen their days in power end since 2010.
Even though he is floundering in the polls, he still has the support of his powerful neighbour. Last week, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel backed the French president for a second term. The unprecedented move saw Merkel announce – on live television – that she supports Sarkozy “on every level”.
French elections will be held on 22 April and 6 May.
-Additional reporting by AP