French opposition party agrees uneasy truce following internal battle over 'fraudulent' leadership election



An uneasy peace has broken out in the month-old conflict which threatened to tear apart the main French opposition party.

Jean-Francois Copé, the apparent winner of an allegedly fraudulent leadership election in November has agreed to a new poll next September to decide who should succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as the long-term President of the centre-right Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP).

In return, his rival, the former Prime Minister François Fillon, has agreed to dissolve his breakaway parliamentary group – the Rassemblement UMP or RUMP – and abandon a legal action against his own party.

Both sides claimed victory yesterday but the terms accepted by Mr Cope amount to an admission that his apparent victory by a handful of vote last month was, at the least, dubious. The new election will be organised by a neutral “high authority”. If he wishes to run again, Mr Cope, 48, will have to stand down as UMP president.

Party resources will be equally available to all candidates. In the meantime, two of Mr Fillon’s closest allies will be given senior posts in the UMP hierarchy.

The deal, brokered by the former prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, has avoided, for now, a schism within France’s largest political party. It leaves, however, a legacy of fraternal hatred, based partly on ideology and partly on personal ambition, which could explode once again next year.

Mr Fillon, 58, had accused Mr Copé’s team of  organising “fraud on an industrial scale” to snatch the party leadership and de facto pole position for the centre-right “nomination” for the 2017 presidential election. Tens of thousands of proxy ballots were cast for Mr Cope, who organised the election as party secretary-general. Votes from overseas were “forgotten”.

Mr Copé, a one-time moderate who ran a populist, hard right campaign, accused Mr Fillon of being a “bad loser” and anti-democratic.   

Other candidates could now enter the race next summer, including, conceivably, former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr Fillon may stand aside and concentrate his energies and his long-term Presidential hopes on the mayoral election in Paris in 2014. 

National support for both men has been reduced by the internal, party name-calling in the last month but Mr Copé’s ratings have fallen more steeply than those of Mr Fillon. By taking his party to the brink of destruction, the former prime minister lost his reputation as a calm and consensual politician. He also demonstrated fighting qualities that even his supporters had not previously detected.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk