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Monday, 23 July 2012

Incomplete political faction - and what if there were a Royal coup within the UMP?

Have you noticed how much the centre-right opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire
(Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) is coming to resemble the Socialist party of just a few years ago.

Ségolène Royal (screenshot from TV report after Socialist party primaries)

The reference is not of course to political ideology but in terms of the internal power struggle which is set to heat up.

There's a race for the vacant position of party president, due to be elected in November, and already a slew of candidates - former ministers in the main - have let it be known they're interested in the post either as a way of uniting the party or making a stab at a run for the 2017 presidential elections - or both.

(With former positions in brackets) the front runners are likely to be François Fillon (prime minister) who has already declared he's a candidate, and the party's current secretary-general Jean-François Copé, who's not yet officially announced his decision but has already begun campaigning.

At the weekend Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (ecology) said she would be a candidate joining Bruno Le Maire (agriculture) in the hunt for the 8,000 party signatories necessary to be eligible to stand.

The mayor of Nice and most definitely orange-faced one, Christian Estrosi (industry) is "not excluding" the possibility and neither is Rachida Dati (justice) who, even though she supports Copé and can't stand Fillon, has mooted the idea of a possible trio of women sharing the post.

Xavier Bertrand (employment) is apparently giving himself until the autumn before he comes up with a decision and François Baroin is also reportedly contemplating more than his just navel.

And if the choice for party activists were not already difficult enough, word on the grapevine is that they'll have a perhaps royally unwelcome presence among the starters.

Because a veteran of past battles ingloriously lost is thought to be considering entering the fray.

Yes you've guessed it. Some have suggested that Ségolène Royal will make a stab at yet another political office - a move which could very well put the proverbial cat among the pigeons and see UMP activists rally behind anyone who might save the party from a fate worse than the recent two electoral defeats.

Seggers to run? Surely a joke - you might be thinking.

Well it might be something of a stretch, but take a look at her record of campaigning and the idea doesn't sound so ridiculous, does it?

In 2007 she was the Socialist party's candidate in the presidential elections of that year, having, against all odds, secured the support of a majority of the party's rank and file members.

Sadly (or not) the party apparatchiks weren't so enthusiastic (and nor was the electorate at large it transpired) lobbing the political equivalent of a Molotov cocktail at every turn in the form a none-too discreet "Tout sauf Ségolène" campaign - an element that was to become something of a leitmotif within the party.

Never one to lie down after defeat, Seggers turned her attention towards the leadership of the Socialist party a year later, leading a bitter campaign against the eventual winner, Martine Aubry, whom she accused of having won an election characterised by "fraud and cheating."

Ho hum.

An attempt to secure the party's nomination as its candidate in this year's presidential elections ended in tears as Seggers finished a distant fourth after the first round with just 6.5 per cent of the vote.

And most recently there have of course been yet more tears as she struggled to put on the bravest of faces after coming under the Tweet-powered attack from the minister of jealousy, Valérie Trierweiler, during her unsuccessful attempt to land a seat in the national assembly.

Yes Seggers is battle-hardened but far from weary and surely ready for anything the UMP might be able to throw at her, including a former ally and advisor, Éric Besson.

He was on her 2007 campaign team but "defected" to the other side just a few months before the election having decided that her economic programme was flawed and the (Socialist) party not ready for power.

Ah yes, the beauty of French politics; Besson once an advisor to Royal and a member of the Socialist party, changed camps, joined the party of Nicolas Sarkozy, and became immigration minister to a man whom he had once described as "a US neocon with a French passport”

So who's to say that an unsubstantiated rumour about Segger's intents couldn't in fact become reality?

Stranger things have happened.

Just for the record, although there is a certain amount of "fact" in this piece, there is also a(n) (un)healthy dollop of "fiction".

Much like French politics really.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course, all these candidates are only thinking of the party, deny that they're thinking about the next presidential election in 2017.
But going back to Segolene Royal, her experience shows how important to secure the reins of the party. When Martine Aubry cheated her out of the Socialist party elections, Segolene probably didn't measure how much she was loosing. And her poor score at the socialist primary elections last year just shows how important it is to head the party.


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