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Sarkozy back on scene to lead UMP

Former president wins vote and has pledged to reform the right-wing party in time for 2017 election

NICOLAS Sarkozy has given himself a year to turn around his party's fortunes, after winning the vote to lead the right-wing UMP towards the 2017 presidential election.

The former French president received 64.5 per cent of the vote by UMP party members - a score described by some media as disappointing for a candidate who was the clear favourite.

Bruno Le Maire has emerged as a strong rival, coming second with 29.1 per cent of the vote.

Sarkozy wants to reform the UMP from top to bottom and will set out his plans in an interview for TF1's evening news on Sunday. He will meet the other candidates on Monday.

He is reportedly keen to see UMP membership double from 268,000 to at least 500,000.

Party members could also be consulted on a potential name change or new slogan for the UMP, which has suffered two years of in-fighting and reputational damage.

Sarkozy wrote on Facebook: "The time for action has now come" - after "two years of internal quarrels and divisions".

He added: "This vote marks a new beginning for our political family."

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