PARIS, Sept 8 France's main opposition party
said on Sunday a national drive to refill its coffers and avert
a financial crisis had met its target, raising 11 million euros
($14.5 million) in just two months.
French election auditors ruled in July the Conservative UMP
had overspent during former president Nicolas Sarkozy's 2012
campaign. As a penalty, they ordered it to repay the 11 million
euros of state money it had been advanced.
To plug the hole, the UMP embarked on a nationwide
fundraising campaign, dubbed a "Sarkothon" by the media.
"In eight weeks, the UMP has carried out the most important
fundraising campaign ever made by a political party under the
Fifth Republic," UMP President Jean-Francois Cope told young
militants in northern France on Sunday.
"I am pleased to announce it today: there, it's done, we
have reached the required 11 million euros," he added.
The Constitutional Council's ruling had been a blow to the
centre-right party after a tumultuous year which saw it torn in
two, in an acrimonious leadership struggle in the wake of
Sarkozy's defeat to Socialist Francois Hollande in May 2012.
"I want each of you to know how grateful I am for this
mobilisation which surprised me as much as it moved me ... Thank
you all," Sarkozy wrote on his Twitter account.
Sarkozy has remained largely out of sight since his defeat
but in recent months has fanned speculation that he is
considering a re-election bid for 2017.
Cope, a Sarkozy ally, has said he would give up any
presidential ambitions if his mentor decided to run again.
But any comeback for Sarkozy would hinge on the outcome of a
host of legal headaches, including scrutiny over the funding of
his 2007 campaign.
($1 = 0.7600 euros)
(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Sophie Louet; Writing by
Natalie Huet; Editing by Andrew Roche)