A supporter of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been officially elected as the next leader of France’s centre-right opposition party, but only by a whisker.
Jean Francois Copé, the incumbent leader of the UMP party, polled 50.3 percent of the vote. That put him a mere 98 votes ahead of the former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who registered 49.97 percent support.
The leadership battle was marred by mutual accusations of voter fraud, emphasising the deep split in the party since it lost power in May. Recounts meant news of Copé‘s win came a full 24 hours after the result had been expected.
The election row has fuelled further speculation of a comeback by Nicolas Sarkozy who has spoken of the possibility if the Socialists under Francois Hollande fail to revive the economy.