French politics

The hazardous (and suicidal) strategy of Jean-François Copé

Jean-François Copé, current UMP Secretary General, currently running for the UMP leadership

While Nicolas Sarkozy lets to sow doubt on a probable come-back in politics, the campaign is going on at the UMP to succeed him to the head of the party he ruled from 2004 to 2007, curiously hushed and regulated by the current strategy of Jean-François Copé, a quite surprising strategy.

The current UMP Secretary General and MP-mayor of Meaux (east of Paris) has been noticed for several days by his trash declarations, insisting on white people victims of racism or telling some (white) children are assaulted by Muslim yobbos if they were eating their “pain au cholocat” (a famous French pastry) during Ramadan. These statements provoked a buzz, creating certain uneasiness within the UMP. For instance, François Baroin, former minister and François Fillon supporter, did not hesitate to qualify the Copé’s declarations as dangerous.

Lagging behind François Fillon for the UMP leadership, Jean-François Copé wants to change his speech and his strategy especially. The former minister wants to show he has a strong grip and he especially is a man of principles without any concession vis-à-vis the ones who should not respect the values and the rules of the French Republic. His speech is directly inspired from Nicolas Sarkozy who let the former leader to get the leadership and install his authority within the party. Thus, the current Secretary General keeps referring to the ex-French president as on the last August when he reminded he was a half-blood child as Sarkozy and he had, as the ex-Elysée’s tenant, the love of France, the love he was to affirm and defend in return as a duty.

Jean-François Copé and François Fillon, ex-French Primer minister and running for the UMP leadership, at the end of May 2012 in Paris

Jean-François Copé is multiplying the references to Nicolas Sarkozy, introducing himself as his heir, a way to ensure the Sarkozy’s supporters being still orphans of their leader and having still difficulties to turn over a new leaf. The current Secretary General clearly understood it and hopes to seduce this handful of activists, speaking as Sarkozy and adopting the same political strategy. Nonetheless, such a strategy is very hazardous not to say suicidal in so far as if there was certain credibility in the words and the tactic used by the ex-French President, the Jean-François Copé’s speech seems to ring hollow, without any sincerity, as if imitating Sarkozy was enough to win the UMP leadership, and not the contrary, that is to say, being Copé.

This strategy may wrong the current MP of Seine-et-Marne insofar as if he imitates Sarkozy anyway, he should do it correctly and with conviction and sincerity. Jean-François Copé seems to risk everything, even if it means neglecting a quite important part of the UMP activists, as the liberals, the centrists or the Gaullists, who do not knowledge themselves in such statements and such a strategy. Thus, this is a risky strategy, not to say suicidal, as if Copé, unconsciously, knew the game was done.

That probably explains the serenity and the discretion of François Fillon who even can thank his rival insofar as the clumsy and provoking statements of the current UMP Secretary General are serving the former Nicolas Sarkozy’s Prime minister for the UMP leadership race, much more he could have thought. Thanks to Copé, François Fillon strengthens his image of wise, pragmatic and serious man freed of Sarkozy face to a man who needs the former President to get more legitimacy towards activists.