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Sarkozy ally wins French UMP vote

  • France’s conservative UMP party has chosen Jean-Francois Cope as its next leader following an election hit by claims of fraud and ballot stuffing.

    Cope, an ally of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, won 50.03 percent of the vote, beating ex-prime minister Francois Fillon with 49.97 percent. The margin of victory was just 98 votes.

    The final result was announced on Monday and had been delayed for more than 24 hours.

    Cope, the UMP secretary general, is seen as more right wing while Fillon is viewed as more of a centrist.

    Opinion polls had suggested Fillon had the edge but initial results on Sunday indicated a narrow lead for Cope.

    The UMP held the presidency of France for 17 years but in May, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande ended Sarkozy's bid for a second term.