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Nicolas Sarkozy is a French politician, a member of the UMP conservative political party.
He has been the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry in the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin since the cabinet shuffle of March 31, 2004. He was the Minister of the Interior in the previous Raffarin cabinet.
Nicolas Sarkozy was a deputy to the French National Assembly for several terms. From 1993 to 1995, he was minister of budget and spokesman of the executive in the cabinet of prime minister �douard Balladur. He was the mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine from 1983 to 2002.
He holds a bachelor's degree in law and a certificate of aptitude to the profession of attorney. He also has a degree from the Institut d'�tudes Politiques de Paris (more widely known as Sciences Po).
Nicolas Sarkozy's actions as interior minister, in charge of law enforcement, were controversial in France: while generally popular for his "tough on crime" policies, he was criticized for pushing for legislation that, allegedly, infringed on civil rights and for targeting some disenfranchised classes of the population (beggars, prostitutes, youngsters from housing projects...).
Nicolas Sarkozy, as of 2004, is often thought of as the French right's best hope for the 2007 presidential elections. He has lately increasingly clashed with president Jacques Chirac, who sees him as some worrying rival. He is in competition with Chirac's loyalists for the control of the UMP; on September 1, 2004, he officially announced his candidacy for the November elections for the presidency of UMP, which he won. He should be intronised on the 28th of November in a congress at the Bourget. Event though this makes him president of the most powerful party in France, he will likely be monitored and even opposed by partisants of Chirac.