France’s Constitutional Council has ruled that former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his UMP party went over budget during his 2012 election campaign.
It means the centre-right party will have to return a 10.7 million euros advance of state money as a punishment.
The UMP is already in financial difficulties and its leader Jean-François Copé, is now launching a national appeal for funds.
“I call on the French, who do not necessarily share all our ideas but consider essential that a major party of right and centre-right works on preparing the future of French children. I call on them to respond to the launch of our national subscription.”
Sarkozy’s first reaction was to say he would quit from the Council which all former presidents belong in order to regain his freedom of speech to challenge the ruling.
But Bruno Le Roux of France’s Socialist Party is unsympathetic:
“We previously had a faked election campaign budget, today we have a campaign budget which has been rejected and everyone who has checked it has come to the same conclusion.”
The council confirmed a decision by France’s electoral watchdog that Sarkozy had exceeded spending by 2.1 percent.
Although he’s not said anything officially about making a political comeback the ruling is likely to dent his chances.