June 13, 2016 / 9:28 AM / 3 years ago

Ex-Sarkozy aide says will run in French presidential election

French UMP political party deputy Henri Guaino attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - A former top aide to Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday he would run against him in the conservative party’s primaries for the 2017 presidential election, further weakening Sarkozy’s own bid.

Henri Guaino, who wrote many of Sarkozy’s key speeches when he was president in 2007-2012 and was one of his closest advisers, backs a statist economic policy that is absent from the increasingly large field of candidates for Les Republicains (LR) party’s November primaries.

“I am tired of that single world view, of austerity policies,” Guaino, who is an LR lawmaker, told France Inter radio.

While Guaino has little chance of getting his party’s ticket, for which former prime minister Alain Juppe is currently the front runner, the candidacy of such a close former aide highlights Sarkozy’s struggle in keeping a grip on his party.

At least 10 other candidates are also eyeing the party’s ticket for the presidential election.

Sarkozy has still not officially announced his candidacy but no one doubts he plans to throw his hat in the ring. He tried to boost his ratings among grassroots LR sympathizers last week by reviving one of his most divisive mantras, that of France’s need to defend its national identity.

Guaino said that he would try and run in the presidential election anyway even if he does not win the party’s primaries.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Simon Carraud; Editing by Richard Lough

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