Bayrou launches new party, vows to keep Sarkozy in check

10th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 10, 2007 (AFP) - French centrist Francois Bayrou, emboldened by his third-place showing in the presidential election, on Thursday launched a new party, vowing to keep president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy's powers in check.

PARIS, May 10, 2007 (AFP) - French centrist Francois Bayrou, emboldened by his third-place showing in the presidential election, on Thursday launched a new party, vowing to keep president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy's powers in check.

"Nothing is more important than to build in France a counterweight, that is free and able to express itself, able to go to the citizens and say 'wait a minute, something is not right'," said Bayrou at the launch of his new Democratic Movement party.

"We will not systematically oppose. We are free men and women with the intention of saying and watching what will happen in our country in the next five years," he said.

The Democratic Movement, which will hold a founding congress in the fall, will field candidates in the June 10 and 17 legislative elections.

Bayrou came third in the April 22 first round of voting, winning nearly seven million votes on a platform that called for rejecting the left-right divide in French politics.

His voters split between Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal in the runoff after being aggressively courted by the two candidates.

But 22 of the 29 elected deputies of Bayrou's small Union for a French Democracy (UDF) joined Sarkozy's camp and a poll showed that the new party stood to win only a handful of seats.

Sarkozy's governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) had threatened to scrap electoral deals that allowed UDF candidates to run unopposed by a UMP rival in some constituencies.

Bayrou, a 55-year-old former education minister, alluded during a gathering in Paris to launch the new party to certain "pressures" placed on UDF deputies to join the winning camp.

"We have the duty to resist," Bayrou said. "France needs resistance."

Sarkozy's UMP currently holds 369 seats in the 577-member National Assembly while the Socialist Party has 149 deputies.

A BVA poll released Thursday showed the UMP would win the lion's share of seats in the June elections, with between 288 to 344 seats.

The Socialists were set to garner between 158 to 200 seats, followed by the Communists with 14 to 18 deputies.

Bayrou's new party could win between eight to 13 seats, according to the BVA poll.

Bayrou said the UDF will be absorbed into the new party espousing social democracy.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French new

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