French far-right leader Le Pen sees opportunities from UMP dispute

2012-12-04 14:57:53 GMT2012-12-04 22:57:53(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PARIS, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- President of French far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen revealed on Tuesday a sharp increase in requests for membership as rifts weakened her main right-wing rival, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

"What we noticed is that we started at the beginning of the UMP crisis to multiply by three our membership requests by internet. We mounted up (membership) by five times via internet," Le Pen told Radio Classique.

"They are people coming from the UMP or ones who do not belong to any political wing," she added.

Currently, the National Front numbered 55,000 members and eyes to represent the country's main opposition to the Socialists as the long election dispute between UMP rivals will make the party's end, according to the 44-year-old lawyer.

Le Pen's celebration of membership increase came as former prime minister Francois Fillon formalized his parliamentary wing, the Rally for the UMP (R-UMP) in the National Assembly.

Fillon's move that set to offer to the newly formed group a talk time during the lower house of parliament's meetings and millions of euros of public funding, is likely to underscore a bitter spilt in the conservative party just months after it lost power.

On Tuesday evening, a second round of talks was scheduled between Fillon and UMP incumbent leader Jean-Francois Cope in a fresh attempt to smooth differences over a possible referendum on whether to hold a new vote to pick the party's new leader.

The option of a new vote was suggested by former president Nicolas Sarkozy who urged them to find a compromise later in the day to preserve the unity of his political family.

However, there is little sign that the leadership dispute will end soon, as Cope, confirmed as UMP head by the party's Electoral Appeals Commission, wanted to postpone the vote after 2014 municipal elections.

But Fillon, who warned to seek judicial solutions, asked for a re-vote in the shortest possible time.

France's conservatives have been without new boss since Nov. 18 as both contenders claimed they have won the tough election race for UMP leadership.

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