Dominique de Villepin, the former foreign minister and former prime minister who was once an intraparty rival of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, has ended his somewhat quixotic bid for the presidency after failing to receive sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot.
De Villepin had polled around 1% in polls for this race, although voters gave him the nod as sexiest presidential candidate.
His long-shot center-right candidacy seemed like it was motivated primarily by personal animosity against Sarkozy rather than any specific policy goal.
Accordingly, his exit may give a very minor boost to Sarkozy — the French president remains far behind in second-round voting to Parti socialiste candidate François Hollande, but has been gaining ground in first-round polls with indications that his emphasis on immigration may be pulling votes away from Front national candidate Marine Le Pen.
De Villepin, who has never been elected to popular office, led the campaign in the United Nations against the war in Iraq as foreign minister in 2003. He went on to suffer decreasing popularity as the last prime minister of former French president Jacques Chirac amid turmoil in the banlieues and opposition to proposed labor market reforms. He remained under investigation with respect to his role known as the “Clearstream affair” in France through much of Sarkozy’s first term — essentially, de Villepin was charged with spreading fake allegations about Sarkozy in the late 2000s when the two were battling to become the standard-bearer of Chirac’s neo-Gaullist Union pour un Mouvement Populaire.