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France

French press review 26 November 2012

media

On-going troubles . . . in the right-wing UMP party and in the French steel industry . . . are the main items on this morning's agenda. Neither situation is likely to get better any day soon.

The UMP story has been running now for a week, ever since top dogs, Jean-François Copé and François Fillon, fell out over which of them was going to be the party boss.

The battle has been bitter and divisive, with accusations of cheating, threats of legal action and the forced withdrawal of the mediator, Alain Juppé. And there's no sign that things are ready to cool down just yet.

Right wing supporters are sick of the power struggle, says centrist paper Le Monde.

The pitiless universe of the UMP is worse than Dallas, says left-leaning Libération, with a sidelong glance at the recent death of that series' villain, Larry Hagman, better known as JR.

"Prime time suicide" is the headline in Le Figaro, and that's a right-wing paper.

The Le Monde editorial says it is "Time to turn the page of the Sarkozy era". At the same moment as tabloid Aujourd'hui en France reports that former president Sarko is about to jump into the UMP leadership battle . . . he's to have lunch this very Monday with François Fillon . . . Le Monde says Sarkozy should not be seen as part of a solution, simply because he is the main cause of the problem.

The real trouble, says Le Monde, is a deep political uncertainty at the heart of the post-Sarkozy UMP. It was the former president who took the first steps towards blurring the lines along which mainstream conservatives distinguished themselves from far right nutters. Copé has continued that process, targeting the Muslim community and presenting himself as the radical successor to Sarkozy.

Far from an incarnation of the Chiracian neo-Gaullist ideals, Copé's appeal is to the new generation of ambitious right-wingers, but also to those who see him as having the energy and drive necessary to get the UMP's electoral vessel afloat once again.

Former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was among those who were harshly critical of the dangerous swerve to the extreme right in Nicolas Sarkozy's 2012 presidential campaign. But Copé has now managed to secure the support of the very same Raffarin in his power struggle against François Fillon.

Fillon would seem to have less margin for fancy footwork, and fewer heavyweight supporters. His moderate social and economic stances leave Fillon squashed in a crowded centre increasingly occupied by Jean-Louis Borloo's Union of Independent Democrats.

That appears to leave angry conservative supporters with a choice between a woolly centre and the extreme right, and is not good news for the survival of the creaking UMP.

 
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