Sarkozy: French Identity Being Lost

SAINT-ANDRE-LEZ-LILLE, France (Reuters) – Former President Nicolas Sarkozy courted supporters of France’s Front National party in a speech laced with references to French identity and values but in which he stopped short of launching his bid for re-election next year. Reviving the divisive theme of national identity that helped propel the head of the Les Republicains party to power in 2007 but turned voters off five years later, Sarkozy said French culture was dissolving because of cowardly leaders. “It wasn’t that long ago that when we talked about immigration, identity and removing citizenship we were called fascists,” Sarkozy said. “But minds have changed, the masses are rising, the people are standing up and they are saying louder and louder ‘that’s enough’.” The speech by 61-year-old Sarkozy, a figure both loved and loathed among right-wing voters, will be interpreted by many as the precursor to a widely-anticipated run for another term at the Elysee presidential palace. Touching on topics that will resonate with potential voters for Front National leader Marine Le Pen, Sarkozy’s conservative views on French society set him apart from Alain Juppe, his more moderate rival for the Les Republicains party ticket whose focus has been on the economy