Born: January 28, 1955 in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly
Background: Middle son of a Hungarian immigrant father, Pal Sarkozy, and a French mother of Greek Jewish origin, Andree Mallah. Studied law before attending the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, from which he failed to graduate.
Family: Married Italian-born model-turned-singer Carla Bruni in 2008. Together they have one daughter, Giulia, born in 2011. Bruni is his third wife after Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz whom he married in 1996 and divorced in 2007. Before that he was married to Marie-Dominique Culioli from 1981 to 1996. Besides Giulia, Sarkozy has three sons – Pierre and Jean with Culioli, and Louis with Ciganer-Albeniz.
Political parties: Joined the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR) in 1974. In 1976 he joined Jacques Chirac’s Gaullist RPR party which later became the Union for a Popular Movement or UMP in 2002.
Political career: Mayor of Neuilly from 1983 to 2002 and budget minister under Edouard Balladur from 1993 to 1995. He served as a tough-talking interior minister from 2002 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2007, separated by a period as finance minister from 2004 to 2005. He won control of the centre-right UMP party in 2004.
Current mandate(s): Incumbent President of the Republic
Outstanding features: He gained national attention in 1993 by offering himself as a hostage to help save the lives of nursery school children taken hostage in Neuilly by a man known as “Human Bomb”. Critics have accused him of being a control-freak who micro-manages government policy. He has also drawn criticism for his flashy style and ties with the rich.
Introduce structural reforms to boost competitiveness and growth. Before officially declaring his candidacy he announced proposals to wind down the 35-hour week and raise VAT in order to fund a reduction in social charges for employers to lower the cost of labour.
Reform the country's generous welfare system to get the long-term unemployed back to work. Jobless claimants will have to retrain or risk losing benefits. Those on minimum benefits will do seven hours paid work a week.
Hold national referendums on policy plans blocked in parliament to "give the public its voice back".
Introduce a tax on dividend income, a minimum 15 percent tax on major French corporations and a levy for tax exiles.
Toughen up banking regulations and apply a financial transaction tax.
Cut the number of legal immigrants from 180,000 to 100,000 and increase deportations of illegal immigrants. Sarkozy has threatened to suspend France's membership of Europe's visa-free Schengen zone unless he sees progress on EU external border controls.
Impose unilateral trade restrictions in public procurement unless the EU introduces "Buy European" legislation within a year.
Make it an offence to access Jihadist websites that glorify killing, and to go abroad for Jihadist indoctrination.