Former President Nicolas Sarkozy is a smart politician, and he knows which way the wind is blowing in Europe: rightward. The Financial Times reports that he’s heading in that direction in hopes of regaining the Presidency:
For Mr Sarkozy to fulfil his ambition of winning a second presidential term he is likely to have to defeat Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Front (FN), in 2017. But in order to get a shot at the presidency he must first win the nomination to be the candidate of his centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party against centrist Alain Juppé, the former prime minister and now mayor of Bordeaux.
Earlier this week, Sarkozy promised to abrogate “la loi Taubira” that legalizes gay marriage and adoption by same-sex parents. This puts Sarkozy in line to compete for far-right voters against Le Pen in the general election. But as the FT notes, first he has to defeat Juppé, who condemned Sarkozy’s declaration, for their party’s nomination. And the party overall is not nearly as right wing as its “core”:
About 2m people are expected to cast their votes in the primaries and their politics are not as far to the right as those of the voters Mr Sarkozy is now trying to woo.According to one opinion poll, 58 per cent of UMP sympathisers believe that gay couples should have the right to get married – up from 33 per cent in January last year. At the same time, 38 per cent of them now support gay couples’ right to adopt, compared with 18 per cent in December 2012. Mr Juppé, firmly placing himself in the centre, criticised the former president’s weekend performance.
But though the rightward turn may be difficult to navigate for Europe’s center-right pols, as long as the far right continues to gain power, they will trim their sails and steer to starboard.