Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The UMP Primary: Sarkozy's Achilles' Heel?

More rapidly than expected, the UMP has adopted rules governing its presidential primary, to be held next year. Stealing a leaf from the Socialists, the party hopes to stimulate interest in its candidacy and hone its message by staging this "event" well before the presidential election, ensuring that it will receive its share of media attention. The eligibility requirements are surprisingly open: to vote in the UMP primary, one simply has to declare an interest in l'alternance (and who doesn't want to throw the bums out) and pay €2, a sum small enough not to deter anyone.

This naturally raises the question of whether Sarkozy, by agreeing to this arrangement, has not signed his own death warrant. All polls suggest that while he remains extremely popular with the hard core of the UMP base, he is much less popular in the country at large and might well lose to Alain Juppé if enough voters are willing to cross party lines to vote in the UMP race. And even if Juppé falters--his strength at the moment reflects name recognition as much as anything else, and he is not an especially good campaigner--there are other ambitieux waiting in the wings, most notably Bruno Le Maire but also NKM, Xavier Bertrand, and possibly others, depending on how things evolve. So the situation is tricky for Sarkozy, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it.

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