Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine separatist crisis overshadows Easter celebrations

    Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels call for Russian troops after deadly clash

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

France

PM, party officials boycott Sarkozy's Islam debate

©

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2011-04-06

France’s ruling UMP party met Tuesday for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s debate on strengthening secularism amid religious diversity. The prime minister and other top politicians refused to take part, however, saying the debate could stigmatise Islam.

France’s UMP party gathered at the Meridien hotel in drab south-central Paris Tuesday, with a list of 26 ideas supposed to strengthen the country’s secular standing.

While the controversial debate was attended by a gaggle of journalists and guarded by a heavy police presence, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister was nowhere to be seen. 
 
Prime Minister François Fillon, along with a number of ministers and top aides to Sarkozy, chose not to participate in the convention because of concerns over the stigmatisation of Islam.
 
It’s an issue that has caused the biggest rupture in the UMP since Sarkozy began his reign four years ago.
 
On the opposite side of the Fillon camp, Sarkozy is joined by his party president, Jean-François Copé – the man who engineered the country’s ban on the full-face veil. He argues that by tackling the Islam question, the UMP will satisfy the concerns of right-wing voters – in time for next year’s presidential election. 
 
Fillon, on the other hand, says that the party must remember that its values “are not those of the far-right,” and that such a convention “is not the right place to express the government's position.”
 
Clutching at straws
 
The UMP is suffering its lowest ever ratings, with predictions for the 2012 election placing Sarkozy behind both the socialist candidate (yet to be decided) and Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front (FN).  
 
“From Sarkozy’s point of view, he probably thinks things can’t get any worse,” social and political researcher on France, Matthew Moran from King’s College London told FRANCE 24. “It’s likely he’s hoping that appealing to far-right voters will give him the boost he needs”. 
 
Rebellious ministers are not helping his case, however. “Sarkozy is known for his very autocratic way of dealing with his government,” Moran says. “The label of ‘hyper-president’ is important because it describes very well Sarkozy’s omnipresence in all aspects of government, to the point of eclipsing his ministers."
 
Sarkozy is widely expected to run for president in 2012, and the opposition are hoping that the UMP’s ongoing squabble will damage him. “Not necessarily,” says Moran. “Sarkozy is very good at creating a whirlwind of activity around him, so that before voters have properly reacted to an issue he’s already moved on to something else.
 
"If the debate on secularism goes badly, Sarkozy is shrewd enough to move onto another battleground very quickly. This issue, by itself, will not be fatal."

Date created : 2011-04-05

  • FRANCE

    France readies for ban on full Islamic veil

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Old differences threaten ruling UMP party power

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French Socialists celebrate as Sarkozy's party despairs

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)