Right-wing candidate is new head of French opposition
A botched election that hoisted Jean-François Copé to the head of France’s main conservative party has left it bitterly divided and without a clear presidential candidate for 2017, opening a window for a comeback by former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr Copé, who stands on the right of the opposition party, beat moderate former prime minister François Fillon by a razor-thin margin of 98 votes out of 175,000 after more than 24 hours of bickering over the count and accusations of ballot-stuffing.
The disputed victory unleashed a war of words between factions, raising fears of a possible break-up or another long-running feud of the kind that has repeatedly weakened the French right over the past three decades.
While Mr Copé (48) will now lead the party for three years, hostility in Mr Fillon’s camp may deprive him of full support for a 2017 presidential bid and fuel a longing for a unifiying figure. – (Reuters)