UMP Election to Be Held

François Fillon and Jean-François Copé.By Staff Political Cartoonist Justin Walker.

François Fillon and Jean-François Copé.
By Staff Political Cartoonist Justin Walker.

Tuesday will be the next big test for the UMP, France’s right-wing “Union for a Popular Movement” political party, as constituents are expected to consult with their congressmen about the possibility of holding a second election to determine the head of the party.

UMP heavyweights have become involved in negotiations between Copé, the close and still contested winner, and Fillon, the congress’ and poll favorite, who claimed he was robbed of the victory by voter fraud.

After three weeks of internal havoc and division of the UMP into two groups-those supporting Copé and those backing Fillon-the proposed new election cannot wait any longer.

“While the UMP is fighting to the delight of the media, the government and the [Socialist Party] are getting all their bills passed without any trouble, and without a firm opposition… ” Says Julien Blanc-Galera, a UMP activist. “The country’s current [political] situation deserves a strong opposition, and not quarrels that hurt the democratic process.”

Over the last few weeks, Fillon and his supporters have been pressuring Copé to surrender his newly-won position, though the efforts of those in the former prime minister’s camp (Fillon served under Nicolas Sarkozy) have proved fruitless. However, Tuesday’s vote could change it all. Most of the UMP congressmen are pro-Fillon, and even among the Copé ranks, many are in favor of a redo.

“I meet UMP supporters everyday, and they’re sick and tired of the national situation.” Blanc-Galera says. “You have to know that for the federations, this conflict has little impact. All the federations are hard at work, and they’re working with both sides. They each have their role so that everyone can express themselves freely.”

Despite the UMP dispute, their victory seems assured in the redo of the legislative by-elections this Sunday December 16. These parlementary elections were held again due to irrigularities in three areas. 

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