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Razor-thin result in vote for new French conservative leader sows disarray in Sarkozy's party

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party is in disarray after a vote for its next leader produced a razor-thin result — and both candidates claimed victory.

Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and former Budget Minister Jean-Francois Cope were grappling for control of the Union for a Popular Movement party in Sunday's balloting. The dispute over the winner has extended into Monday.

The winner will lead opposition to President Francois Hollande's Socialist leadership. In the spring, after a decade in power, the UMP lost both the presidency and control of the National Assembly to Socialists.

Sarkozy remains a behind-the-scenes presence. Fillon is seen mostly as an even-tempered moderate, while former UMP leader Cope has reached out to the far right and led the legislative effort that banned face-covering Muslim veils.