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Sarkozy’s bid to lead France could be quashed before it’s even begun

Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed he plans to run again to be French President, but he may not be The Republicans party's best bet for success.

Instead, Alain Juppé, a rival candidate from The Republicans, may stand a stronger chance of winning over voters from the incumbent Socialist Party, a political risk analyst told CNBC on Tuesday.

Alain Juppé
Nicolas Kovarik | IP3 | Getty Images

"I think Juppé is really the player to watch here, because Juppé has the ability to reach far into the political center and I think that is what is going to be required," Carsten Nickel, senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC.

Sarkozy, who was president between 2007 and 2012, announced his intention to run again via Facebook on Monday. He said he had "the strength to lead the fight at such a tormented moment in our history," in a post in French.

However, the former leader faces several competitors to be the presidential candidate for his center-right party. Some are not viewed as serious candidates, but others, such as Juppé and Francois Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy, are.

France uses a two-round election system, which means that if no candidate received an absolute majority in the first round, all but the two leading candidates are eliminated and a second round of voting is held.

Juppé was prime minister under President Jacques Chirac between 1995 and 1997 and is currently mayor of Bordeaux. He is viewed as a unifying figure, unlike Sarkozy, who presided during the global financial crisis of 2007-08 and was charged with corruption in 2014. He is under investigation for suspected funding irregularities during his 2012 presidential campaign but denies wrongdoing.

Nicolas Sarkozy
Lionel Bonaventure | AFP | Getty Images

"Most likely the center-right candidate is going to face a run-off against Marine Le Pen from the far-right and what you need in that second-round run-off is that ability to win over the disappointed voters of the Socialists whose candidate is probably going to drop out in the first round," Nickel told CNBC.

"So with a view to the second round it really would make sense to choose Alain Juppé. So the question here really is for voters within The Republicans Party: Do they go with their heart – that would probably mean choosing Sarkozy — or do they go with their mind, with a view to the chance of success in the second round."

Incumbent Francois Hollande is entitled to run again for president, but is yet to announce his intentions. The leader of the center-left party is little liked, with a substantial fall to unemployment yet to be seen since he pushed through unpopular labor reforms. The country has also suffered terror attacks during his term, leading to criticism of Hollande's handling of insurgent Islamist extremism and the influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.

There's limited appetite to change EU policy: Teneo

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