The Drama Continues with the UMP

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Francois Baroin, Jean-François Copé. Photo: AFP / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD

The internal landscape of the UMP has once again changed and new candidates are now running for leadership of the party, claiming to be a kind of “third option” to the battle between François Fillon and Jean François Copé.

The first of these new candidates is Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. Former minister under Sarkozy and former spokeswoman for the Sarkozy campaign, Kosciusko-Morizet is not gearing up for the 2017 presidential campaign, unlike Copé and Fillon. As Alain Juppé suggested before her, she believes that the leader of the party should not run for office in 2017. She wants to present herself as an alternative in the current ideological battle, which Copé and Fillon have embodied, advocating for “the need to avoid breaks and preserve the unity of the [UMP] movement.” Her new political movement, La France droite, aims at establishing clear values, and a straightforward demarcation between the UMP and other political parties, notably the Parti Socialist and the Front National. Claiming sarkozysm, Kosciusko-Morizet puts the stress on the UMP traditional values including labor and authority. She does not support the movement towards the the conservative right and so is also in favor of reforms.

The second candidate, Bruno Lemaire, former Minister of Agriculture, and coordinator of the UMP project, has not officially declared but has already started his campaign. According to him, the election for the leadership of the party needs to have various candidates. Lemaire defends the idea that though it is hard to achieve, there should be a transfer from a “culture of the leader”, to a culture “of the debate.” In this sense, he thinks that the UMP does not have “the right conception of power.” As the left did before, he wants to highlight dialogue and cooperation.

Next month, Lemaire will publish a “political doctrine for the right” in Le Débat. This text is based on four main ideas: the renewing of the political life, the place of authority in the French society, the change in the European policies, and measures supporting increased competitive advantage.

Both Kosciusko-Morizet and Lemaire will need the signatures of 8,000 members of the UMP to run for party leadership. However internal disagreements and the strength of the Fillon-Copé duo may put a spoke in their wheel.

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