A Party in Agony

On Sunday, members of the centre-right UMP party went to the polls to choose their new party leader. The winner would become the unofficial leader of the opposition for the next five years and a front-runner for the 2017 Presidential campaign. Results were expected Sunday night, but despite a victory speech late that night from underdog and current party chief, Jean-François Copé, on Monday morning the results were still too close to call.

On Monday evening the Party machine announced that Copé had won, but by a razor-thin margin of 0.03% (98 votes). But in light of accusations of the stuffing of ballot boxes on both sides, François Fillon’s threat to go to the courts to have the result overturned and the startling admission by the Party itself that its apparently final tally left off three overseas federations, the Party is still in chaos.

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Leadership Elections for the UMP (or the battle for the lowest common denominator)

The two big beasts of the conservative right are battling for the leadership of the UMP, the centre-right party of Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy and the unofficial leader of the opposition.  The party will select its new leader in less than two weeks, and won’t pick its future Presidential candidate for another three years, but already the race is set to define the UMP’s strategy to opposing President Hollande’s administration.

And so far, it has not been an edifying sight. Continue reading