Leadership fiasco pushes France's UMP closer to break-up

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Leadership fiasco pushes France's UMP closer to break-up

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The former French prime minister Francois Fillon is setting up his own group of supporters while his conservative UMP party tears itself apart over who is the leader.

Fillon wants a new leadership election within three months after last week’s poll was mired in allegations of vote-rigging and fraud.

His opponent, the hardliner Jean-Francois Copé, was confirmed the winner after a recount by a party appeals commission.

“When I hear some saying we should vote again – I say no,” Copé declared. “It is not the time to take our eyes off the ball, to be bitter and regretful saying we need a new vote. The question today is how to get our members back into the fight against the left.”

A little more than six months ago the party was in charge of France. Now the newspapers are talking of ‘trench warfare’ at the top.

The former president Nicolas Sarkozy has also called for a re-run of the ballot.