Union for a Popular Movement

Published 23rd February, 2012

The Union for a Popular Movement or UMP was founded on the 17th November 2002 as a further attempt to draw together all of the right wing parties in France. It describes itself as centre-right and believes in Liberal conservatism, Christian democracy and Gaullism.

The party can trace its history back to Charles de Gaulle’s Union for the New Republic (UNR) which was established in 1958. In 1968 that became the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR) (also known as Union for the Defence of the Republic) which in turn became the Rally for the Republic (RPR) in 1976 under Jacques Chirac’s leadership.

The Rally for the Republic and Union for French Democracy (UDF) under François Bayrou joined forces in 1993 as the Union for France. The relationship formally came together in 1997 as the Alliance for France and in 2002 with the addition of Liberal Democracy (LD) first of all Union on the Move, then Union for a Presidential Majority finally morphed into Union for a Popular Movement.

Charles de Gaulle, under the Union for a New Republic title, won the 1958 election which commenced the Fifth Republic when he took 77% of the vote. This was the start of the era of executive presidencies (and the Fifth Republic) for France. De Gaulle went on to win the 1965 election with 55.51% of the vote.

De Gaulle resigned in April 1969 and was replaced by Georges Pompidou, by which time the party was called the Union for the Defence of the Republic. Pompidou won the 1969 presidential election with 57.5% of the vote in the second ballot. Pompidou died in office in 1974 and there followed two terms in office of the Socialist Party (PS) president François Mitterrand.

In 1995 the now Rally for the Republic (RPR) candidate, Jacques Chirac won the presidential election with 52.64% in the second round. He won again in April/May 2002 with 82.21% of the vote in round two. Soon after the presidential election, the Union for a Presidential Majority was formed to fight the general election which it won, taking 357 of the 577 seats in the French National Assembly. The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) was formed in the November the same year.

In 2004, as Chirac and the UMP grew increasingly unpopular, the UMP did badly in the local and European elections. On 29th November 2004 Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would stand down as finance minister and stand for the presidency.

Sarkozy fought the 2007 presidential election campaign and won with 53.06% of the vote in the second round. The UMP did slightly less well that year, but were able to win 313 of 577 seats in the French National Assembly, giving them a comfortable majority.

In the 2008, 2010 and 2011 local elections the UMP did poorly, although they did a little better in the European elections of 2009. Following a Cabinet reshuffle in November 2010 a number of centrists left the party, including Jean-Luis Borloo and formed The Alliance.

Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that he will stand again in the 2012 presidential election.

The Union for a Popular Movement is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the International Democrat Union. It is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) within the European Parliament where it currently holds 22 of the 74 national seats.

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