• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Sarkozy seeks new UMP vote to end impasse

AFP · 27 Nov 2012, 08:06

Published: 27 Nov 2012 08:06 GMT+01:00

The UMP, the political heir to the party founded by Charles de Gaulle after the Second World War, is in turmoil after accusations of vote-rigging tarnished a leadership vote pitting former prime minister Francois Fillon against hardline rival Jean-Francois Copé.

At a peacemaking lunch Monday with Fillon, Sarkozy said holding a new vote would "avoid an escalation of the conflict", a party source told AFP — an account confirmed by both Fillon and Copé loyalists in the party.

Still reeling from its loss of the presidency and parliament this year, the UMP is facing the spectre of an unprecedented split as both rivals have refused to back down in the increasingly angry dispute.

The ridicule foisted on the party over the leadership debacle has done serious damage to its image, benefitting Socialist President François Hollande as he struggles with a flat economy and dropping popularity.

Some UMP deputies were already raising the prospect on Monday of breaking away from the party's parliamentary faction —  a move that would deprive it of crucial public funding.

Sarkozy flew in early Monday from a conference in Shanghai for his lunch with Fillon, which lasted more than hour in Sarkozy's office in central Paris.

A party heavyweight who earlier failed in a mediation bid had urged Sarkozy — still enormously popular with the UMP rank-and-file despite his loss to Hollande in May's presidential vote — to intervene.
  
"Clearly (Sarkozy) is the only one today to have enough authority to propose a way out," former foreign minister Alain Juppé told RTL radio.

Fillon, 58, and Copé, 48, have traded accusations of fraud and ballot-rigging since last Sunday's election for a party president ended with
Copé ahead.

A party appeals commission on Monday confirmed Copé's win, raising his margin of victory from 98 votes to nearly 1,000 following an examination of complaints over alleged irregularities.

Fillon's camp has accused the commission of bias and said he will pursue legal action including a civil suit to have the results overturned.

"Once again Jean-Francois Copé has had himself declared president (of the UMP) by a coup," Fillon said after the commission's ruling, calling its decision "illegal" and saying it had "no guarantee of impartiality".

Speaking at UMP headquarters, Copé called on the party to choose "forgiveness over division" and "the future over bitterness".

He said the party needed Fillon and urged him to join a proposed team for reconciliation.

The UMP's opponents on both the left and far-right have watched with glee as the party implodes, with some already writing its obituary.

"The UMP no longer exists. The UMP is dead," Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, gloated on Monday.

 Fillon was to bring together his supporters in parliament early Tuesday, with many clamouring to break away from the UMP if Copé remains leader.

Story continues below…

Such a move would strip the UMP of the 42,000 euros in annual funding it receives for each of its members in the lower-house National Assembly and upper-house Senate.

Lawmakers have until Friday to declare their party affiliation for next year's funds.

The UMP has 183 members in France's 577-seat National Assembly, the second-largest group after the Socialists.

Polls show the overwhelming majority of French voters and UMP supporters would like to see the party run the election again, but Copé has rejected the idea.

Both men are fiscal conservatives advocating free-market policies and economic reforms, but Copé has carved out a niche on the right flank of the UMP with his tough-talking approach to immigration and Islam.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
14,000 pregnant women in France took 'birth defect drug'
Dépakine has been linked to an increased risk of various congenital defects. File photo: AFP

Health authorities have been criticized for their slow reaction to warnings that Dépakine can be dangerous during pregnancy.

How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Photo: AFP

Almost all of France is on a heatwave alert. Here's how to keep cool.

Heatwave warnings extended yet again as France bakes
Photo: AFP

The national weather agency has issued orange alerts to a further 23 départements.

Paris warned about high level of ozone pollution
Photo: AFP

Free parking on Thursday to fight the high pollution levels.

French Muslim body to talk burqini ban with government
Photo: AFP

The French Council of Muslims has called an urgent meeting with the interior minister citing a "fear of stigmatization of Muslims in France".

Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
Be quick - it's a scorcher of a summer in France this year. Photo: AFP

The tastiest way to get through the heatwave.

French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Photo: AFP

French schools will soon be forced to stage simulated attacks in a bid to prepare children for potential terror attacks, among other measures.

French police 'force woman to remove burqini' on beach
A file photo of a woman in a burqini. Photo: AFP

Pictures have emerged showing armed police officers in southern France apparently forcing a woman to remove her burqini.

Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
President Hollande, who hasn't yet announced if he will run, and Nicolas Sarkozy, who is eyeing up the top job next year. Photo: AFP

France is yearning for political renewal, but looks set to be stuck with familiar faces in the presidential race.

Frenchman 'kills Brit in stabbing rampage' in Australia
Photo: AFP

A Frenchman allegedly killed a British woman and stabbed three others in an Australian backpacker's hostel.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
'To boycott France is to surrender to terrorists'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
21 photos to make you want to come to France right now
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese
National
French MP's call for Facebook ID cards blasted 'as idiotic'
Travel
Summer checklist: Fourteen great travel ideas for France
Travel
Here's why France is still world's top tourist destination
'Wealthy American tourists' snub France over terror fears
National
Where to go swimming in France (and where to avoid)
Society
23 subtle signs you'll never quite master French
2,741
jobs available