Sarkozy swings into campaigning mode online and on TV

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has opened a personal Twitter account and geared up for a prime-time TV appearance amid expectations he will at last announce his re-election bid.

Mr Sarkozy, whom many blame for France’s economic troubles, has for months trailed Socialist nominee Francois Hollande in the polls. Many pundits say Mr Sarkozy needs to recoup some momentum to stand a chance of winning the two-round vote starting in April. To most observers, Mr Sarkozy’s candidacy has been more a question of “when” than “if,” and some suggested his deficit in the polls has accelerated its official start.

Socialists sought to play down the expected announcement as a non-event and to paint Mr Sarkozy as a permanent campaigner anyway. Mr Sarkozy’s allies spun it their way, saying the President will now be able to break apart Mr Hollande’s platform.

Mr Sarkozy’s looming candidacy has become one of France’s worst-kept political secrets.

He was due to be interviewed last night on France’s most-watched news programme, broadcast by the private TF1 channel.