Kosciusko-Morizet Wins UMP Municipal Primary Elections

NKM, Internet Governance Forum 2010 - Vilnius. Photo: Veni Markovski, Flickr.

NKM, Internet Governance Forum 2010 – Vilnius.
Photo: Veni Markovski, Flickr.

On June 3, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, NKM, was designated as candidate for the 2014 municipal elections in Paris by 58.16% of the votes, during the first round of the local primary elections of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP). Her campaign apparently convinced a sweeping majority of the members of her party, of whom approximately 23,000 voted on the third. The other candidates were far behind her, with 20.40% of the votes for Jean-François Legaret, 10.75% for Pierre-Yves Bournazel and 10.34% for Franck Margain.

NKM, Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokeswoman during his 2012 campaign and former minister of Ecology, gathered the necessary number of supporters to be elected without second round in what was considered a troubled context. The registrations for the elections were disrupted by accusations of fraud. These elections, a first attempt for the right-wing party to choose its candidate in a more democratic way and praised as a “historical event” by the president of the Parisian section of the party, Philippe Goujon, turned sour because of the online voting system.

Goujon had been very clear, stating that the system was “ultra-secure.” Nevertheless, many people, including journalists, declared that it was quite possible to vote in the name of someone else online, and claimed they were able to do so, since the only thing needed was a credit card to pay the voting expense (3 euros). Beyond these severe problems, the process was criticized in itself for its complexity, which was probably one cause of the low number of registered voters, compared to the 60,000 expected. This disappointing number had led to the extension of the deadlines for registration and election, which triggered a strong backlash from some candidates, in the meantime accusing NKM of disobeying the rules.

Despite the widespread contestation about the regularity of the vote, all of the former candidates called for the support of NKM against the left in Paris, inviting their supporters to gather around her. This will not be the easiest of tasks for NKM, who was severely criticized by members of her party and by Guillaume Pelletier, vice-president of the party, who had questioned her candidacy because of her non-opposition to the same-sex marriage bill and her blank vote at the Assembly.

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.

Nevertheless, it is well known that while left-wing parties have a tradition of severe competition between rival currents and figures, while the UMP is the latest child of a tradition which goes back to the General De Gaulle in which a leader needs to impose himself. As a result, many important figures of the UMP criticized the will to introduce this process in their own party, and Jean-François Copé, president of the party, admitted that it was “rather new” in the party and that they were still “learning [inner] democracy.” Isabelle Balkany, member of Sarkozy’s entourage, even call to “stop with primary elections!” claiming on Twitter, “it is definitely not in our culture!”

Nonetheless Bruno Le Maire, a major figure of the UMP, expressed his support for the system of primary elections, declaring, “democracy is never too risky. What is risky is the nomination  [of candidates] by political machineries, that citizens do not want anymore.”

NKM will then be faced with Anne Hidalgo, the socialist candidate for the municipal elections in Paris. The latter considered that the UMP primary election was “already marred with suspicion” and that it was not “a good show for democracy as a whole.” During her first speech as an official candidate, NKM declared, hinting at the accusations of fraud, that she has “no one to answer to, but the Parisians themselves.”

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  1. […] Kosciusko-Morizet, as known as NKM, was designated as candidate for the 2014 municipal elections in Paris by 58.16% of the votes during the first round of the local primary elections of the Union pour un Mouvement […]

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