Warring French right looks to Sarkozy as a savior
Warring French right looks to Sarkozy as a savior
Sarkozy, who had until now steered clear of an ugly week-long dispute over who won a Nov. 18 party leadership vote, held a mid-day meeting with Francois Fillon, who is mounting a legal challenge to rival Jean-Francois Cope’s razor-thin victory.
The lunch meeting came hours after Alain Juppe, a center right veteran and former prime minister, abandoned his bid to mediate a solution following fruitless talks with the warring UMP rivals and said Sarkozy could be the party’s last hope.
The dispute, described by conservative daily Le Figaro as “live suicide,” threatens to tear apart a party whose mission when founded a decade ago was to tie together the centrist and harder right factions that Fillon and Cope stand for.
“It seems clear that (Sarkozy) is the only person today with enough authority to propose a solution where I cannot see one,” Juppe told RTL radio. “It’s in his hands.” Two-thirds of UMP supporters want Sarkozy to run in the 2017 presidential election despite his vow to quit politics when he lost power in May, and analysts see the current feud increasing the chances of his staging a comeback.
Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy but has a more centrist stance, made no comment as he arrived for their talks.
Cope, a disciple of Sarkozy with hard-line views on issues like immigration, told BFM television that Fillon’s decision to take legal action was the wrong way to end the quarrel.
The botched contest to find a successor to Sarkozy, which descended into chaos as both camps accused each other of ballot-stuffing, has made a laughing stock of a party that held the presidency for a decade until the Socialists’ May election win.
It is turning into a boon for President Francois Hollande as he grapples with a flat lining economy and slumping ratings.
“It is hard to see how the UMP continues as a party after this,” Arthur Goldhammer, an expert at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, wrote in his French politics blog. “Clearly this is a saga that will not play out in a day.” The debacle has exposed a deep split over the party’s gradual shift to the right on issues such as immigration and religion that could now reshape the political landscape.
At worst, analysts predict a break-up of a party that former President Jacques Chirac founded to keep the right on a centrist path set by General Charles de Gaulle after World War Two.
Even if the party can hold together, the feud risks distracting the UMP for months from its role as the main opposition party, benefiting both the left and the far-right ahead of local elections in 2014.
“This bad soap opera has to end because democracy needs an operational opposition,” the Socialist Party said in a tweet.
Le Figaro urged Fillon and Cope in a front-page editorial to “stop the massacre” and said the “pitiful spectacle” of their week long sparring was an insult to politics.
Hollande had been due to meet Cope, as UMP leader, yesterday to discuss institutional changes but the meeting was postponed after Cope rejected Juppe’s suggestion of forming a new, more neutral, committee to determine the result of the Nov. 18 vote.
The UMP appeals committee was due to give its latest verdict today on the vote, which Cope says he won by 98 votes out of nearly 175,000 cast. Fillon says he would have won by 26 votes had about 1,000 overseas ballots not been excluded.
Juppe said it was possible the UMP could hold a fresh vote, an idea backed by 71 percent of the public according to an opinion poll published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. Cope said the idea made no sense.
Cope, who has said he would put his presidential ambitions on hold if Sarkozy decided to run in 2017, also said he believed his mentor had no intention of interfering in the vote.
Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown
- The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
- The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.
WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious.
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June.
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.