PARIS (AP) — Nicolas Sarkozy may want his old job back.
The man who led France from 2007 to 2012 announced Friday on Facebook that he's joining the race to lead his conservative UMP party in elections next month. The widely expected move is seen as a first step toward running for president in 2017.
Sarkozy, the 59-year-old husband of model-turned-singer Carla Bruni, faces a string of legal problems linked to corruption accusations. But that doesn't appear to be holding him back from staging a political return.
When he left the Elysee Palace in 2012, he said he was leaving politics and would find a different way to serve his country.
Now, his successor, Socialist Francois Hollande, has become the most unpopular French leader of modern times over his handling of the economy.
And Sarkozy's UMP party, which he led before running for president the first time, is a nest of divisions in a leadership vacuum.
So with polls showing some want Sarkozy to come back, he wrote Friday, "I have decided to propose a new political choice to the French."
"I love France too much. I am too passionate about public debate and the future of my compatriots to see them condemned to choose between the desperate spectacle of today and the prospect of dead-end isolation," he wrote, in apparent reference to Hollande's weak presidency and the recent rise of far right leader Marine Le Pen, who wants France's top job.
Since Sarkozy left office, he has followed his wife's concert tour and given speeches at international events — and been detained for questioning and faced legal charges.