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Union for A Popular Movement

From dKosopedia

French Major Right-wing Party founded in 2002 as a merger of the three main right-wing parties of the time, to support Chirac's presidential bid.

As the 2002 presidential election was looming with a reelection bid by Chirac, major right-wing figures - inspired by Chirac himself - decided to use the momentum to merge the three main parties of the right (RPR - gaullist ; UDF - centrist ; DL - freemarket oriented party) in one big one. The official reason was to put a brake on the unending feuding between parties that have been in power on and off together for thirty years. The non-official one was to build a party that would constitute a base of power for Chirac and his friends. A small part of the UDF under Bayrou refused to join the party but by the end of April 2002 most right-wing figures had rallied under the UMP banner.

Officially created on the 23rd of April (two days after the first round of the presidential election that saw the surprise elimination of the Socialist leader Lionel Jospin and a future run-off between Chirac and the extreme right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen), it bore the name Union pour la Majorite Presidentielle (Union for a Presidential Majority). By the time the first congress convened in November, they changed the name to Union for a Popular Movement (while keeping the acronym) if only because the name didnt make much sense anymore now that Chirac had been reelected.

The first leader of the party was Alain Juppe, former Prime Minister, then mayor of Bordeaux and Chiracs "favorite son". But after he was found guilty in the trial of one of the murky election finances issues that have been pursuing Chirac and his former aides as mayor of Paris, he resigned. Nicolas Sarkozy, France's extremly popular interior minister, was elected president of the party, in spite of his very tense relationship with Chirac, whom he openly campaigns to succeed.

The UMP is a mishmash of the very diverse currents of France's right.

Because part of the centrists stayed on their own under Francois Bayrou's direction in their own party, the fights within the party are embodied by its two main figures (now that Alain Juppe is out of the scene because of his conviction) :

The irony is that Sarkozy, while defending options that are against what most Frenchpeople stand for, is the most popular rightist politican in France because of his energetic persona. De Villepin, cold and never elected to any office before he was chosen as Prime Minister, is not as popular but he is Chirac's new "favorite son" on whom he counts to carry his legacy and his policy choices may appeal more to Frenchpeople. Mainly though, the tension between the two wings of the party are personal, as Chirac's friends hate Sarkozy for his inclination to continuously humiliate Chirac by reminding people of his age and his failures and also what was considered his betrayal of Chirac when he supported Chirac's right-wing rival Balladur during the 1995 presidential election. His overwhelming election as president of the party tend to indicate though he will be the UMP's presidential candidate in 2007, unless Chirac runs again, which seems unlikely after the NO to the European Constitution that largely discredited him.

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This page was last modified 02:37, 6 July 2005 by dKosopedia user Doriansaintier. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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