Ex Prez Sarkozy defeated in French Republican party primaries

By BBC
Nicholas sarkozy

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been knocked out of a primary to choose the presidential candidate of the centre-right Republican party.

Admitting defeat, Mr Sarkozy endorsed Francois Fillon, a moderate who finished first in Sunday's first round, according to near-complete results.

Alain Juppe, who like Mr Fillon is an ex-prime minister, finished second.

They will face each other in a run-off next Sunday. The winner will compete in next year's presidential election.

The winner of the Republican primary is likely to make the presidential run-off, where he or she will probably face far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

With the governing socialists unpopular and divided, it seems unlikely that any left-wing candidate will survive the first round in April.

Polls currently suggest that the centre-right candidate would win the second round in May.