Villepin party will challenge Sarkozy
Dominique de Villepin, right, the former French prime minister, yesterday announced plans to form a new right-wing political party to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy.
He disclosed his intentions after regional elections in which the conservative UMP party to which both belong was all but annihilated. Mr Villepin's supporters said he would formally create the party in June and challenge for the presidency in 2012.
The two men were once ministerial colleagues under former president Jacques Chirac, but fell out spectacularly over who should succeed him. The UMP is increasingly divided over Mr Sarkozy's leadership, with many members blaming him for Sunday's election defeat and falling public support.
Francois Goulard, a right-wing MP and Villepin supporter, said the party did not have a name but would offer the French people a real alternative.
"If we have a problem, it's not with one reform or the other, nor with the parliamentary majority, nor the government. It's simply Nicolas Sarkozy," he said. "It's he who suffered a defeat. It's his methods and style that have been rejected by part of our electorate." (© Daily Telegraph, London)