• France edition
 
Copé and Fillon edge towards new election
Jean-François Copé and François Fillon photographed earlier this year. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Copé and Fillon edge towards new election

Published: 17 Dec 2012 10:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Dec 2012 10:00 GMT+01:00

After a month of bitter recriminations, Jean-François Copé, who won last month's hotly disputed leadership battle, appeared Sunday to have accepted the new vote after a telephone conversation with his rival, former prime minister François Fillon.

Previously, Copé had refused any fresh vote before the 2014 local elections.

Copé's camp told AFP that Copé had made the concession in a bid to calm the damaging row. The September 2013 date would fall mid-way between the March 2014 vote he had initially wanted and the March 2013 deadline Fillon had set.

The question of dates had been the major blocking point in the battle between the two camps.

It leaves the way clear to negotiating the reunification of the party in parliament. Last month, Fillon created his own parliament group, dubbed the Rally for the UMP (R-UMP), depriving the UMP of 68 of its 194 deputies.

Talks to settle that matter were set for Monday, sources in both camps said.

Copé told AFP Sunday he was confident he could reach an agreement with Fillon.

"The problem of the calendar for a new election was the last sticking point between us," he said.

"The mediation of (former prime minister) Jean-Pierre Raffarin allowed us to advance in a very positive manner," he added.

Once the two sides had settled the other issues, he added, Fillon's R-UMP would begin the process of dissolving itself, "as that has always been the understanding," he added.

In the meantime, he would stay on as president of the party, he said.

"Not everything has been settled but there has been real progress," said Fillon's spokesman, Jerôme Chartier.

Fillon issued a statement welcoming Copé's willingness to agree to the September vote. He too said that the two factions of the party could be reunited once they had finalised their negotiations.

The deal between the two rivals appears to have headed off a referendum planned for Tuesday of UMP deputies and senators on the question of whether there should be a fresh leadership vote before next summer.

Both leaders would like to see the UMP united before the next parliamentary session opens, on January 15, so as to present an effective opposition to the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Late Sunday the two protagonists welcomed the UMP's "grand slam" in three by-elections, winning one seat from the Socialists and holding two, with Copé seeing a "good omen for escaping from the crisis" in the party.

Sources close to ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy have said he was infuriated by the deadlock after the November 18 UMP election that was marred by allegations of irregularities and ballot-stuffing.

The UMP, the political heir to the movement founded by Charles De Gaulle after World War II, has been on the verge of collapse over the bitter and very public dispute between Copé and Fillon.

Both Fillon, 58, and Cope, 48, are fiscal conservatives advocating free-market policies and economic reforms, but Cope has carved out a niche on the right of the UMP with his tough-talking approach to immigration and Islam.    

Sarkozy has no official post in the UMP after his defeat in the May presidential election to Hollande.

But he is anxious to keep the UMP together in case he decides to make a comeback bid for the presidency in 2017.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French Iliad founder says T-Mobile offer is 'real'
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

French Iliad founder says T-Mobile offer is 'real'

French telecom upstart Iliad's founder said Friday that the company's offer for US-based T-Mobile is "real" and that he is open to working with partners on a deal. READ  

Air France grounds flights ahead of strike
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Air France grounds flights ahead of strike

Air France has cancelled some of its short and medium-haul flights from airports across France on Saturday due to a strike by ground staff on one of the busiest travel days of the year. READ  

Tête-à-tête - August in Paris
'You'd have to be crazy to stay in Paris in August'
Is Paris in August heaven or hell? Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

'You'd have to be crazy to stay in Paris in August'

The eternal debate of whether staying in Paris for the month of August is pure joy or punishment is taken up here by The Local's Joshua Melvin and Ben McPartland. They debate the heat, tourists, Paris plages, and the seductive call of the rest of France. READ  

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than French
Foreigners in France are more likely ti turn up in queues at job centres it seems, than locals. Photo: AFP

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than French

Foreigners from outside the EU suffer from a much lower employment rate in France than native citizens and EU immigrants, a study confirmed this week. READ  

French PM takes a swipe at eurozone's policies
French MP Manuel Valls has blasted the eurozone's economic policies. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

French PM takes a swipe at eurozone's policies

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has launched a timely tirade against European finance chiefs for their ineffective economic policies. It comes as indicators show the French economy's recovery is lagging behind its neighbours. READ  

Holiday travel chaos
Steer clear of French motorways, drivers told
Stay off the roads in France this weekend, unless you need to travel that is, in which case prepare for delays. Photo: AFP

Steer clear of French motorways, drivers told

Drivers in France are being warned to steer clear of French motorways on Friday night and Saturday. With July and August holidaymakers set to cross over, the weekend is set be one of the busiest of the year on French roads. READ  

Plan to make stores give unsold food to charity
French lawmakers are trying to make it illegal for big supermarkets to throw away food. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Plan to make stores give unsold food to charity

A collective of French lawmakers have proposed legislation that would force larger supermarkets to donate out of date food to charity rather than throw it away. The politicians behind it say waste is “the scourge of our consumer society.” READ  

France gets tough on anti-Semitism and racism
France's top cop cop urges crackdown on anti-Semitic acts. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France gets tough on anti-Semitism and racism

France’s 'top cop' has been forced to remind local authorities of their duty to report all acts of racism and anti-Semitism to law enforcement officials so culprits can be prosecuted. The move comes as the Gaza crisis has led to increased tensions in France. READ  

Paris police lose 51 kilos of cocaine at HQ
Police police are looking for 51 kilos of cocaine they have lost. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Paris police lose 51 kilos of cocaine at HQ

Paris police have lost 51 kilos of cocaine that were locked up in the legendary police headquarters in the city centre. This embarrassing lapse comes mere months after a much more serious case of misconduct at the same building. READ  

French bombard Google with pleas to be forgotten
Thousands of French have bombarded Google with requests to be forgotten - more than any other nationality in Europe. Photo: AFP

French bombard Google with pleas to be forgotten

French internet users have bombarded Google with requests for links to be deleted from the search engine, but the internet giant has told European officials it's proving difficult to clear their memories. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Air France strike set to hit holidaymakers. Latest info here
National
France honours Jean Jaurès, 100 years after he was assassinated
National
Nudity on the beaches of France: Dos and don'ts
National
Hospital opens patient wine bar with 'medically supervised' wine tasting
Society
Will France ban this violent Jewish fringe group?
Culture
Why are the days of going topless in France coming to an end?
Travel
Reckless or adventurous? US dad takes his two children up Mont Blanc
National
From manure to money: Ten bizarre facts about the French Parliament
Culture
Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens
International
Is France really Europe's biggest public spenders?
National
Could your job in France soon be done by a robot?
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se