• France's news in English
Sarkozy appeals for funds to save UMP party
Screengrab from Sarkozy's Facebook page where he made the appeal for funds on Friday.

Sarkozy appeals for funds to save UMP party

Ben McPartland · 5 Jul 2013, 11:11

Published: 05 Jul 2013 11:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has blasted France’s highest body the Constitutional Council for putting the France's centre-right opposition party the UMP "in peril" and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Sarkozy resigned from the council on Thursday after it had confirmed he had breached spending limits during last year's presidential election campaign, meaning the party would not be reimbursed its €10 million deposit.

Making an appeal on his Facebook page for donations to help save the party Sarkozy said: “This is an unprecedented situation in the Fifth Republic. It puts the political group, that must prepare the real and necessary alternative to socialism, in peril.

“This is not just about the UMP. This concerns anyone who is committed to pluralism."

“I must assume my responsibilities in committing myself to guaranteeing free expression of democracy in our country. I ask you to mobilize to help me to achieve this end,” Sarkozy added.

Below his statement Sarkozy put a link to a webpage on which the public can make donations.

The UMP have been at panic stations ever since the Constitutional Council said in a statement that it was confirming a decision by France's electoral finance watchdog that Sarkozy had exceeded the spending ceiling on last year's president campaign expenses by around €466,000. It was only 2.1 percent of the €23 million the party had spent on the losing campaign but it proved a costly error.

Because of this, the rules state that the UMP and Sarkozy, who lost to Socialist Francois Hollande in the vote, is not eligible for the reimbursement of 47.5 percent of total campaign spending he was due under election financing laws.

'The UMP will need a bailout like Greece'

Sarkozy will also need to return €150,000 advanced by the state for the campaign.

But it is the future of the UMP that is really at stake. According to figures quoted in the French media the party is now a whopping €46 million in debt. Europe1 claims the party was forced to borrow €55 million from banks in July 2012, on the condition it would pay it back within years.

“With the loss €11 million, that we were counting on getting back, we will have to renegotiate the repayments with the banks for after 2017,” a UMP source told Europe1 radio.

French political commentator told broadcaster BFMTV that the UMP was facing financial ruin.

“It’s important to realize how serious [the court’s ruling] is for the UMP," he said. "It’s going to need a second bailout plan, just like Greece.”

UMP leaders have already sprung into action.

'Great national contribution'

On Thursday, shortly after the Constitutional Council hit the UMP with its bombshell the current leader of the party Jean Françoise Copé launched a “great national contribution” to try to raise money from supporters and sympathizers.

Story continues below…

The donations were needed, Copé said, to "prevent the French political arena from being monopolized by the left and radical parties."

However not everyone is predicting impending disaster for the UMP. Writer Jean-Baptiste Marteau who has co-authored two books on the party told The Local on Thursday the UMP could yet turn a defeat into a victory.

“Ten million euros is a significant amount and it will obviously be difficult for the party but they could use this to win the support of a public who believe the party has been victimized,” Marteau said.

“Copé’s national subscription has already proved successful and the public could really get behind the UMP and turn this from a negative into a positive,” he added.

Sarkozy has been implicated in a series of campaign funding scandals allegedly involving Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, and former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available