France's Sarkozy, on comeback trail, wins right to rename party

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2015 11:19 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy won a court fight on Tuesday for the right to rename his conservative party "The Republicans", a prelude to an expected attempt to win back the presidency in 2017.

A French court dismissed demands for an emergency ban on Sarkozy's plan to change his party's name from the clunkier Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

Dozens of people had filed an emergency complaint to stop the rebranding, arguing that the name, by alluding to France's Fifth Republic, founded 57 years ago, was an attempt by the political right to usurp the values of the entire nation.

But a Paris judge ruled there was no justification for an emergency ban. The plaintiffs can appeal the ruling and can also file a regular complaint, but that would take months to be processed.

"Freedom won! We'll be able to call ourselves the Republicans!" lawmaker Daniel Fasquelle said on Twitter.

Sarkozy, defeated by Socialist Francois Hollande in May 2012 after five years in power, came out of political retirement last year. He was named UMP chairman last November, promising to help it years of internal disputes.

The name change, already backed by the party's leadership, is expected to be approved by its members in an electronic vote on Thursday and Friday ahead of a party congress on Saturday.

(Reporting by Chine Labbe; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Trevelyan)