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

 

Paris

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
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test