FRANCE

Sarkozy to shake up party leadership after French regional vote

Joel Saget, AFP | Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy sits next to Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, vice-president of his conservative Les Républicains party, on October 10, 2015

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans on Monday to shake up the leadership of his conservative Les Républicains following this weekend’s regional elections.

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Sarkozy is widely expected to sideline the party’s number two, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who openly criticised his decision not to join forces with the governing Socialist Party to help block the far-right National Front (FN) in this weekend’s regional elections.

"We need a new team," Sarkozy told reporters. "We prefer that the party's leaders talk about the party's policy positions and not other things."

The shake-up, which will be held early January, comes after Les Républicains (formerly called UMP) won seven out of 13 regions in the second round of elections on Sunday, as the FN was shut out of power.

Les Républicans, however, only won two of those regions after the Socialist Party decided to withdraw its candidates from areas where the FN scored strongly in the first round. Les Républicans candidates thus attracted the votes that would otherwise have gone to Socialists.

Kosciusko-Morizet, who once ran to be mayor of Paris and is known in France by her initials NKM, responded angrily to reports that Sarkozy intends to remove her from the vice-presidency.

"Eliminating people just as a debate is being launched is an old Stalinist idea," she said. "I am not going to swap my convictions for a place [in the leadership]."

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, one of Sarkozy's rivals to secure the right's nomination for the 2017 presidential race, also criticised the reported move.

"Exclusion is never a good response," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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