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French center-right makes historic merger

Xinhuanet 2002-11-18 05:58:50

””””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 presidential election.

””””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 congress.

””””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

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