””””PARIS, Nov. 17 (Xinhuabet) -- With the creation of the Union for a Popular
Movement (UMP) on Sunday, the French center-right politicians made a historic
merger and formed a single broad union backing President Jacques Chirac to
govern the country in at least the next five years.
””””The new UMP replaces the Union for the Presidential Majority (also UMP) set up
on April 23 -- two days after Chirac's victory in the first round of
””””Both are a coalition of representatives of the three rivaling conservative
tendencies: the Chirac-led Rally for the Republic (RPR), the Liberal Democracy
(DL) and the Union for French Democracy (UDF).
””””The new one, whose name was chosen at its first congress on northern outskirts
of Paris, marked the official birth of a single party, which has long
been a dream of France's conservative politicians.
””””It now holds 365 seats of the 577-member National Assembly, lower house of
the French parliament. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is one of the
leaders of the DL.
””””During the congress, Alain Juppe, mayor of Bordeaux, one of theclosest
allies of Chirac and former prime minister from 1995 to 1997, was elected
President of the new party.
””””Jean-Claude Gaudin, senator and mayor of Marseilles, was elected delegate
vice president and Philippe Douste-Blazy, deputy and mayor of Toulouse, was
named secretary general.
””””"Never before have we been able to put at the service of actionsuch a
grouping of energy and talent," said Chirac in a message tothe congress, read
out by Juppe.
””””The UMP took example from the Spanish Popular Party led by Prime Minister
Jose Maria Aznar, who was among the guests of Sunday's congress.
””””"Unity is a decisive value...I came to show you my support and to tell you
that the model you have chosen today will work. I knowit," said Aznar at the
””””The merger of various conservative formations also marked a bigstep toward
bi-polarization of politics in France. The dispersed left-wing parties may feel
the pressure to consider a similar merger. Enditem