UMP to Implement Agreement, Party Left With Tarnished Reputation

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

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

PARIS. – Last year, the UMP wore itself out as a dispute over who would become the new head of the party dragged on for three weeks without any resolution. The declared winner, Jean-François Copé, wouldn’t budge, and poll favorite, François Fillon, left the UMP group at the National Assembly. He created RUMP (rassemblement-UMP), taking 70 of his followers with him. The two candidates struck a last-minute deal on December 17 and agreed to host new elections in September 2013 to put out the fire.

Copé and Fillon met on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of the new agreement and potential candidates for leadership in the UMP. During the crisis last fall, the newly elected president of the party could not form a team without the imminent risk of worsening the situation.

The two agreed on a new “leading team” which demonstrates unity through the sharing of power. Copé will head the transition, but the Vice President will be Fillonist Laurent Wauquiez, and the deputy vice-president will be Copéist Luc Chatel. Copéist Michèle Tabarot will be Secretary-General, accompanied by Fillonist Valérie Pécresse. This mixed team is an improvement and a demonstration of good will on the part of both Copé and Fillon.

But the damage has already been done. Even though Copé and Fillon avoided a rift, the credibility of the UMP remains shattered. 70% of French people state that the opposition party could not do better than Socialist president Hollande. Much more than a few handshakes will be required to repair the tarnished reputation and alleviate the public’s reaction to weeks of conflict.

The issue for the UMP now rests with the choices of the two men fighting for the head of the party. Even though they are both making an effort, the rivalry has not gone away, and the tension can still be felt. Copé continuously reminds Fillon of his “electoral legitimacy.”

Copé said in his 2013 address that he hoped for a “strong and united UMP.” The September 2013 election for the party head will test the sincerity of this discourse. Then, in the spring of 2014, the local elections will tell if Sarkozy’s party remains the first opposition party in France.


  1. […] After the scandal surrounding the election for the head of the UMP in 2012, this may be considered another failure for the party. Current French president François Hollande was designated by his party for the presidential campaign through similar primaries, which were new to French parties. The efficiency of the process, and its democratic color, had pushed the UMP to implement such a system. […]

  2. […] Anxious to forget the troubles faced last winter, catastrophic for the UMP in terms of popularity, nearly all of the party heavyweights, supporters of Jean-François Copé and François Fillon ,as well as individuals not aligned with any party were present, in an amicable atmosphere. The following subjects were put up to vote at the assembly, in addition to others: 91% voted for the aforementioned project for towns, 90% voted for the high authority, and 88% voted for the Rules Committee, which would oversee elections to ensure absolute fairness. The unity put forth by individuals at the assembly was shown in the high numbers favoring more rules and regulations, to ensure that elections are conducted fairly. […]

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