Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Anti-immigration Copé succeeds Sarkozy as UMP leader – but don’t rule out a comeback

After the crushing defeat of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy after just one term in power six months ago, members of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have finally voted on a new leader this weekend. 

Jean-Francois-CopeThe two candidates were former prime minister François Fillon and UMP Secretary-General Jean-Francois Copé, with support split the party down the middle, resulting in allegations from both sides of electoral fraud, despite judicial staff overseeing the process.
At one stage during the process, both candidates declared themselves the winner.Eventually the underdog, 48-year-old Copé, was declared the winner on Monday by just 98 votes, despite widespread predictions of Fillon’s win.
Copé’s first task will be to unite the party and ensure they are not overtaken by Front National and Marine Le Pen. Copé will also hope Sarkozy’s recent troubles will not have an impact on public support.
Copé is seen to have a strong anti-immigration stance having produced “A Manifesto for an Uninhibited Right” in which he claimed gangs in the city suburbs were fostering “anti-white racism”. The party was founded in 2002 by former president Jacques Chirac.

There does, however, seem to be an open door for Sarkozy to return as the candidate for the 2017 elections as he remains very popular among UMP members, with many among them publicly calling for his return.

A recent survey by Ifop found 53 per cent of right-leaning voters would like to see Sarkozy and not Fillon or Copé be the UMP’s presidential nominee in 2017. Yesterday, however, Sarkozy summoned by a Bordeaux judge to answer questions over party donations.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Downfall of a President: Nicolas “Mr Bling” Sarkozy in bribe scandal

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be questioned by a judge in Bordeaux this week over bribery allegations.  The charge is that Sarkozy - affectionately known as “Mr Bling” – accepted more than half a million pounds from Liliane Bettencourt to help fund his 2007 presidential campaign and promised Bettencourt tax breaks in return.

If the allegations prove to be true, this would be illegal as French law limits donations to parties to 7,500 euros per person per year with only 150 euros to be given in cash.  Sarkozy was known for his lavish presidency, as opposed to the current president Francois Hollande who was dubbed “Mr Normal”.

Bettencourt, who is the heiress of the cosmetics giant L’Oreal and currently the richest woman in France, has had a number of former employees testify against her, stating Sarkozy attended her private residency to pocket the cash deposited in brown envelopes.

Sarkozy, who lost the French presidential election in May, denies the allegations. There are other corruption allegations against Sarkozy who is no longer immune from prosecution following his election defeat, including one that alleges he accepted millions of euros from the deceased Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
His home and offices were searched in July by French police in relation to the investigations. If Sarkozy is found guilty of corruption, he could face a spell in prison.