Battle to lead French opposition collapses

2012-11-19 11:06
France's former Prime Minister Francois Fillon arrives at France's main centre-right opposition UMP party headquarters in Paris. (Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP)

France's former Prime Minister Francois Fillon arrives at France's main centre-right opposition UMP party headquarters in Paris. (Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - The battle to succeed former president Nicolas Sarkozy at the helm of France's main opposition party, the UMP, was left undecided early on Monday after both candidates claimed victory amid allegations of ballot rigging.

Jean-Francois Cope, the party's populist secretary-general, claimed a clear win while former prime minister Francois Fillon said he believed he had edged the contest subject to confirmation by the electoral commission which oversaw the poll.

"The French people are watching us. We do not have the right to announce the result before those in charge of the vote," said Fillon in a swipe at Cope that reflected the acrimonious nature of the campaign.

Cope said: "The activists of the UMP have accorded me a majority of their votes and therefore have elected me as the president of the party."

Aides to Cope said he had won 1 000 more votes than his rival in a poll in which more than half of the UMP's 300 000 members had cast their ballots. Fillon said he was 224 votes ahead.

Both camps claimed there had been irregularities in voting in several departments and it was unclear how long it would take the electoral commission to check the voting and announce a winner.

Capitalising on Hollande slump

The vote came six months after Sarkozy's presidential election defeat by Socialist Francois Hollande.

Whoever emerges as the new UMP leader will be taking over a party well-placed to capitalise on Hollande's slump in popularity and the economic gloom engulfing the country.

But he may also face a difficult task in uniting the party after a bitter battle that delighted the UMP's rivals.

"It is obvious that whoever is elected president of the UMP will have no legitimacy whatsoever given that he will be in charge of a party broken in two," said Florian Philipott, the deputy leader of the far-right National Front.

The new leader is not certain to be the mainstream right's candidate at the next presidential election in 2017.

Sarkozy is now establishing himself on the money-spinning international conference circuit but he has not ruled out a return to national politics. Polls suggest two thirds of UMP supporters want him to have another tilt at the presidency.

Populist

Fillon, who was prime minister for five years until Sarkozy was ousted by Hollande in May, went into the vote as the marginal favourite, hoping to sell himself as a unity candidate capable of appealing to centrist voters.

Both Fillon, aged 58, and Cope, ten years his junior, are seen as advocates of free market policies and economic reform. But they differ on social issues with Cope sharing Sarkozy's populist approach on immigration and the integration of Europe's largest Muslim community.

He last month published "A Manifesto for an Uninhibited Right", in which he lambasted a culture of "anti-white racism" amongst immigrant communities in impoverished urban areas.

He caused further controversy with a tweet about a boy who allegedly had his breakfast pastry (pain au chocolat) snatched from him during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Fillon accused his rival of opportunism, while seeking to portray himself as an experienced statesman - a stance that prompted Cope to dismiss him as the "Hollande of the right", in a reference to the president's perceived lack of charisma and reputation for dithering.

Read more on:    francois hollande  |  nicolas sarkozy  |  france

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    ACCIDENT after Jan Smuts Drive
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.