Bickering within the UMP

François Fillon, former Prime Minister of France under the Sarkozy administration, unexpectedly announced yesterday, May 25, that he intended to run for leader of his party, Union pour un Movement Populaire (UMP).

After the UMP’s Presidential defeat to François Hollande of the Parti Socialiste (PS), the leadership within the UMP had made a very clear commitment to present a unified front with the Legislative elections around the corner in June. There is much at stake for the UMP as they are hoping to maintain or gain enough seats in the National Assembly to limit the power of the PS.

In an interview that was published in Le Figaro, a popular right-leaning newspaper, Fillon said “Since the departure of Nicolas Sarkozy, there is no longer, for the UMP, a natural leader. Therefore, there will be a competition. I would take part.”

Jean-François Cope, the Secretary-General of the UMP, was in large part, the target of Fillon’s comments. Cope and his supporters reacted to Fillon’s announcement by saying that Fillon was affecting the unity of the party at a time when unity is key to the success in the legislative elections. Rachida Dati, former Minister of Justice and spokesperson for the Sarkozy campaign and administration, said that Fillon could be responsible for a UMP defeat in the elections in June.

Fillon came back to say that Cope and his supporters were being hypocritical and reaffirmed that Sarkozy’s defeat had left a void in the UMP leadership. “Jean-Francois Cope cannot pretend to be the leader of this group without there being a democratic debate and without the party base pronouncing [their opinions].” Both Fillon and Cope most likely have hopes of being the UMP candidate for the 2017 Presidential race.

Today, at the Pullman Hotel in the 14th arrondissement, all of the leaders within the UMP met to discuss, primarily, the best strategies to gain supporters for the legislative elections, but they also addressed the pacification of these inter-party conflicts.

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