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France

Sarkozy party pays French right-winger 800,000 euros for pulling out of presidential race

media Christine Boutin AFP/Jacques Demarthon

A French right-wing Catholic politician claims that Nicolas Sarkozy’s party owes her 300,000 euros, the balance of 800,000 she says she was promised when she withdrew from this presidential race and declared her support for the outgoing president. But Christine Boutin indignantly denies charges that she has been bought off.

Boutin has received 500,000 from Sarkozy’s UMP, she told the weekly Valeurs actuelles published Thursday, and is to receive three cheques for a total value of 180,000 before the end of November.

That leaves a balance of 120,000 euros and she intends to have them.

“After receiving those three cheques, the UMP will still owe me 120,000 euros, a debt that [former prime minister François] Fillon will have to honour if he is elected president of the movement,” she told the magazine.

Boutin, who leads her own small party, the Christian Democrats, has declared her support for Jean-François Copé, who is fighting Fillon for the UMP leadership.

But she declares herself “hurt” by suggestions that the money is a payment for her support for Copé or for supporting Sarkozy for president.

French electoral law grants 800,000 euros to any candidate who wins more than five per cent in the first round of the presidential poll and Boutin claims that she was counting on that money to pay for her campaign.

The most optimistic opinion polls gave her one per cent in the run-up to the first round.

The money “doesn’t concern me personally, of course, it’s the Christian Democrat Party”, Boutin claims, insisting that it will go to pay bills incurred during her aborted election campaign.

Boutin on Thursday declared that legalising gay marriage could lead to polygamy being made legal in the future.

She was reacting to a comment by UMP member François Lebel, who is mayor of Paris’s eighth arrondissement, in an editorial in the municipal newsletter.

Lebel said that not only might polygamy become acceptable if gay marriage becomes legal, but also taboos against incest, paedophilia and child marriage might be called into question.

Copé, whom Lebel supports for UMP chief, condemned the statement, while Fillon warned that the debate would lead deep divisions in French society.

Socialist politicians have slammed the remarks.

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