Paris: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been knocked out of a primary to choose the presidential candidate of the centre-right Republican party.
After coming third, Sarkozy, 61, admitted defeat and endorsed former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, 62, a moderate who finished first in Sunday’s first round, according to near-complete results, the BBC reported.
“I have no bitterness, I have no sadness, and I wish the best for my country,” Sarkozy said.
Fillon served as Sarkozy’s Prime Minister during the latter’s presidency between 2007 and 2012.
Alain Juppe, 71, who like Fillon was a former premier serving under President Jacques Chirac from 1995 to 1997, finished second.
Fillon had around 44% of the vote followed by Juppe with about 28%, while Sarkozy brought in only 20%.
The two former premiers will face each other in a run-off next Sunday. The winner will compete in the 2017 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, the BBC said.
Leader of the National Front since 2011, Le Pen is a fierce euroskeptic who has said there would be no place for multi-culturalism if she took powe