- Patriotic "duty" may force former President Sarkozy back to politics, he tells a magazine
- He says he balks at picking up France "where the Socialist Party will leave it"
- A poll says 56% of his party supporters want him to be the candidate in 2017
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will consider returning to politics to save his floundering center-right party, not because he wants to but because of patriotic "duty," according to an article to be published Thursday in a right-leaning magazine.
In an eight-page special called "In the head of Nicolas Sarkozy," the former president discusses his political future in public for the first time.
He is quoted as saying in Valeurs Actuelles magazine that he has no desire to return to politics, a world that "bores him to death," and balks at the task of "picking up France in the state where the Socialist Party will leave it."
But, Sarkozy said, "there will be unfortunately a moment when the question will no longer be: 'Do you want to?' but 'Do you have a choice?'"
"In this case, I cannot continue to say: 'I am happy, I take my daughter to school and I give conferences all around the world.' In this case, effectively, I will be obliged to come back. Not by desire. By duty. Only because it is for France."
According to a French Institute of Public Opinion poll released Wednesday, 56% of the supporters of his party -- the Union for a Popular Movement, known as UMP -- prefer Sarkozy as their candidate for the 2017 presidential election.
In the article, Sarkozy criticizes President Francois Hollande, saying the Socialist Party leader "has smashed everything that I managed to build with (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel. Not because he does not get along with her but because his politics are completely opposed to that of Germany."
On the subject of Mali, Sarkozy questioned the government's purpose: "What are we doing over there? Apart from supporting coup-makers and attempting to control a country that is three times the size of France with 4,000 men?"
Since being defeated by Hollande last May -- and vowing never to return to politics -- Sarkozy has kept a low profile, working at his law firm in central Paris.
But rumors of a comeback have intensified since the UMP's confused attempt to elect a successor last November, in which both candidates Francois Fillon and Jean-Francois Cope claimed victory amid intraparty squabbling and allegations of vote-rigging.
After a two-day gridlock, Cope was declared the winner. Fillon disputed this and the pair eventually agreed to a re-election later this year.