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Copé suggests a debate to put the issue of Sarkozy's spending debacle to rest

Nicolas Sarkozy at the entrance to UMP headquarters
Nicolas Sarkozy at the entrance to UMP headquarters Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

 In an attempt to resolve the issue regarding former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaigning costs, Jean-Francois Copé, the president of France’s centre-right party UMP, is suggesting a “serious and objective” debate to be held this year. But, stresses it should be done before October.

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 He reasoned that that a debate after October would interfere with the UMP’s chance at re-establishing itself at the upcoming municipal elections in 2014.

Although he did not verbalise the actual words of the controversial inventory, an item that would serve to explain the spending habits that deprived the party of an 11 million euro state subsidy to its campaigning costs, Copé asked that this debate not turn into a trial against Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon who governed France for five years.

A former minister under Sarkozy’s government, Brice Hortefuex, said he sees this topic [the inventory] as nothing more than a recurring theme that will only serve to keep the party off its main tracks.

“If we take care of ourselves, then we take less care of the government and of the majority. I am not in support of leaving the rest to the majority” said Hortefeux during an interview on BFM-TV.

However, UMP Member of Parliament Jacques Myard told RFI “I think it is inevitable that we continue to have thoughts about Sarkozy’s balance sheet, because it is our balance sheet as well. … if we want to draw conclusions from what happened during the last presidential election, we must look reality straight in the eyes. So I think this is a necessity, the French are waiting for us, they are waiting for a project that draws on the conclusions on what happened during our five years in power. It doesn’t mean that anything is bad, it just means that there were mistakes, and that we need to correct those mistakes."

Copé said in an interview with the Nice-Matin news group “As of now, the UMP is a leading team that is comforted by the massive votes from last June, and is ready to engage in a sincere dialogue with the French people”.

Many UMP members have said recently they don’t believe that demanding Sarkozy produce the inventory will really put the question at rest.

This debate was first proposed by former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Rafarrin, followed by Hervé Mariton, Gérald Darmanin, and Laurent Wauquiez, who all believe now is the time to proceed with the “inventory” to better understand what steps need to be taken in the future.

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