Candidates for France’s opposition leadership Francois Fillon (L) and Jean-Francois Cope
Both candidates seeking to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as France’s major opposition leader have declared victory and claimed ballot rigging.
On Sunday, 300,000 party members of Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) casted their vote on Francois Fillon, former prime minister or Jean-Francois Cope, populist secretary general.
Several hours after the voting was finished, Cope claimed a clear win and at the same time, Fillon announced he had a 224-vote advantage stating he received the confirmation from the electoral commission.
Both candidates announced irregularities in voting in several departments, giving uncertainties when the electoral commission will pronounce the new French opposition leader.
Reports say the new UMP leader will need to focus on uniting the party after the bitter election.
Free market policies and economic reforms are topics both Fillon and Cope want to focus on.
The Bank of France declared on November 9 that the French economy is headed for recession with high unemployment rates and a decreasing gross domestic product (GDP).
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily-debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal.
The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.