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  1. ITV Report

France Republican primary: Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy defeated

Nicolas Sarkozy Credit: Reuters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been defeated in the conservative nomination contest for the 2017 presidential election.

He endorsed candidate Francois Fillon, who was his previous prime minister between 2007 and 2012.

"I hold Alain Juppe in high esteem, but I feel closer to Francois Fillon's political choices," Sarkozy said.

The 61-year-old added: "I have no bitterness, no sadness, and I wish all the best for my country, for you my fellow citizens, and for the one who will lead this country I love so much."

Alain Juppe has campaigned as a moderate Credit: Reuters

Sarkozy failed to be re-elected in 2012 after a single five-year term.

Fillon is a moderate who finished first in Sunday's first round, according to near-complete results.

Francois Fillon celebrates the results in his party HQ Credit: Reuters

Juppe, who is seen as a frontrunner, and Fillon, who has seen a late surge in popularity, will face each other in a run-off next Sunday and the winner will compete in next year's presidential election.

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

When he announced his bid for relection, Mr Sarkozy described France as on the "edge of an abyss" and said he cannot allow himself to leave his country "between the drama of the FN (far-right National Front) and the end of Socialism".