French politics

A plethoric board

After weeks of fratricide fight between Copé’s supporters and Fillon’s one who badly damaged its image, the UMP party published his governing board, a plethoric board which was largely commented by political observers.

Jean-François Copé, UMP president, with the UMP executives

Jean-François Copé, UMP president, with the UMP executives

Twenty vice-presidents and fourteen secretaries and deputy secretaries are part of the new board led by Jean-François Copé, the UMP contested leader. This very heterogeneous staff is the aftermath of the deal made between Copé and François Fillon to maintain the very fragile unity of the main opposition party to François Hollande.

At any position, there is a Copé’s supporter and a Fillon’s faithful to not take offence the other camp. For instance, Rachida Dati, former Nicolas Sarkozy’s minister of Justice and fierce supporter of Jean-François Copé, was promoted as vice-president of the movement as Jean-François Lamour, former Olympic fencer and close to François Fillon; a way to find a equilibrium but also to keep an eye on the dealings of the other in the perspective of the next September internal elections for the UMP presidency.

It is in this context the new board is implemented, a supplementary sign of the distrust existing within the UMP. In spite of his dissolution of the dissident parliamentary group in the Assembly – created some time after the contestation of Jean-François Copé’s victory on the last November – the former French PM seems to be determined to not let his rival take initiatives alone in order to mobilize his camp and mark his presence by his supporters. The objective of the Fillon’s faithful is to ensure everything correctly works within the UMP and the Copé’s supporters are not enjoying taking the control of the party, in the perspective of September.

On his side, Jean-François Copé wants to demonstrate he is able to make concessions and also gather the UMP being open and transparent, a subtle way to protect himself against any tackle or soupcon coming from the François Fillon’s supporters regarding the organization of the party and also to restore his image towards the activists and the French people. With such a strategy, the Seine-et-Marne Member of Parliament and Mayor of Meaux (near Paris) wants to appear as “Mr. Loyal” to preserve his chances for the UMP presidency better.

This plethoric board is very symptomatic of the state the French main Right party is currently: there exists distrust and an obvious deficit of leadership within in party which temporary put aside its deep and ideological internal divisions. Copé and Fillon (especially Copé) want to save time to wear the other out and not let him out of his sight, even if it means having a complicated and unreadable governing board, making the UMP inaudible face to the socialist majority and government.

François Fillon, former French PM (2007 to 2012) and Jean-François Copé

François Fillon, former French PM (2007 to 2012) and Jean-François Copé

To sum up, the new UMP board finally looks like a “Mexican army” – according to the expression used by Lionnel Luca, MP and former François Fillon’s head of campaign during the previous UMP race leadership – tumbling face to Jean-Marc Ayrault and François Hollande and who is likely to contradict itself because of the still important rivalries and oppositions existing within the party, especially in the perspective of the next internal election planned for September.