Nicolas Sarkozy has tonight conceded defeat in the race to become the country's Republican party's Presidential candidate, as France's next general election looms.
Sarkozy, who was French President between 2007 and 2012, bowed out as the final votes for the centre-right party's primary were being counted up. Former prime ministers Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe will now most likely go head to head in the second round later this month.
If one nominee secures more than 50 per cent of the vote tonight, they will become the party's Presidential candidate in the first round of voting.
In his speech to acknowledge his defeat, Sarkozy gave his backing to Fillon, who has picked up over 40 per cent of the vote.
Meanwhile, French publication Le Monde has reported Juppe has said he will continue to fight.
Whoever does become the party's Presidential candidate will likely face off against the far-right National Front's Marine Le Pen in the country's general election next year.