Headed for the Third Round

The people have spoken. In a republican spirit and for France, I wish François Hollande good luck. And I want to express the hope that France may keep her position in Europe and in the world. I also hope that the new president will continue to protect all those that live here, just as Nicolas Sarkozy has constantly done for the past five years.

I would like to pay tribute to Nicolas Sarkozy. Last night, he delivered a speech that was dignified, responsible and sincere. As President of the Republic, he accomplished much more in one mandate than some of his predecessors did in two. The French people are indebted to him.

Today, we can but hope that the next five-year mandate will not be marred by the deconstruction and economic, social and moral decline which we unfortunately have to fear from the new president's platform.

Clearly, I am worried for France. I expressed on a number of occasions, in this campaign diary and elsewhere, the reasons I not only considered Nicolas Sarkozy to be the best candidate for France, but also why a Socialist presidency would weaken our country. It poses a threat to our competitiveness, our jobs, our social model, our values and France's place in Europe and the world.

As for the right, France has not heard the last of us. We have no intention of becoming, as those on the left have been, mere commentators. We love France too much to let them tear down everything we have achieved for the French people over the last five years.

Today we have a single imperative: victory in the upcoming legislative elections. These are often called the third round. Now in 2012, it is truer than ever.

Nicolas Sarkozy admitted defeat yesterday with the same courage and sense of responsibility he has always been known for. But one thing is certain: on the right, we are all accountable for Nicolas Sarkozy's record.

This is why we have a clear duty: to remain united around our Secretary General, Jean-François Copé. Both before and after this campaign, he did an incredible job of mobilizing our political family. From militants to elected officials, the support network around Nicolas Sarkozy was exemplary. This exercise in working together must continue. There must be openness, a UMP organization subdivided into various movements, so that each person has the means to express their opinions and enrich the debate. This coming together in diversity is the key to victory next June.

We owe it to France and the French people. It is in the interest of our democracy. France would suffer if the left held all the power -- in our districts, in our territories, in the Senate, at l'Elysée... and tomorrow in the National Assembly? We refuse this vision and it is our duty to thwart it in the next few weeks. Our democracy needs balance. Our country needs a right-wing that is active, unified and vocal.

More than ever, we need to proudly defend our record. Those who have not yet understood will see in the coming weeks, months and years just how much Nicolas Sarkozy's structural reforms have brought to our country. We will not let the left cast doubt on them today. It is true that the most courageous reforms are not always popular. That is what happens when you place the interests of the many over the interests of the few. That is what it means to be a head of state. And it is something François Hollande would now do well to take inspiration from.

For the times we are living in call for solemnity, seriousness and responsibility. All these campaign promises made regarding non-essential, you could even say dangerous, public spending, through taxes that reduce the spending power of the middle-class, through positions that would isolate France in Europe and internationally, need to remain unfulfilled promises. If I were more generous, I would say they were the result of his inexperience.

In the exercise of power, François Hollande will soon learn that he cannot keep these promises. He will soon understand that France needs more responsible policies than those he has been proposing throughout the campaign.

We on the right need to be there to remind him of this and prevent the French people from paying the price as a result. We need to be the counterweight, a safeguard needed more than ever in these times of crisis. This is what is at stake next June in the third round.

All this can be achieved by working together. But in no way can this coming together include the National Front. We will never work with a party that goes against our fundamental values. Such an alliance would be deadly.

But this collaborative effort must obviously include our friends on the center-right. Our friends who have supported Nicolas Sarkozy for a long time and those who were disappointed by François Bayrou's irresponsible choice. A choice motivated by personal ambition. A choice that was out of sync with the values and ideas he was supposed to represent and defend.

With his choice, he sounded the death knell of a party founded around the idea of "not-nor": not on the right, nor on the left. Today, the party has lost all credibility since their leader aligned himself with the left. With all due respect to François Bayrou, fortunately for the French people the center is not reducible to him.

The time will come for the rebirth of the center-right. But today it must without hesitation join a larger movement, a movement that holds the best interests of the French people, that will lead us to victory together in the upcoming legislative elections.

It is together that we will represent this counterweight, this equilibrium essential to our democracy. It is not over. France has certainly not heard the last of us.