World

French conservative party changes new name for 2017 presidential race _ and it seems familiar

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP",  delivers a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015. The UMP — an acronym for "union for a popular movement" — on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members. The party, under the leadership of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is hoping that shedding its old name will also help unload some political baggage before the 2017 presidential race. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP", delivers a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015. The UMP — an acronym for "union for a popular movement" — on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members. The party, under the leadership of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is hoping that shedding its old name will also help unload some political baggage before the 2017 presidential race. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP", waves after delivering a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015.  The UMP (union for a popular movement) on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP", waves after delivering a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015. The UMP (union for a popular movement) on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP",  delivers a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015.  The UMP (union for a popular movement) on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of opposition right-wing party formerly known as the "UMP", delivers a speech during the party congress to mark the foundation of the movement "Les Republicains" (The Republicans), in Paris, Saturday, May 30, 2015. The UMP (union for a popular movement) on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  (The Associated Press)

Meet France's new conservatives, same as the old conservatives — but with a different name.

The UMP — an acronym for "union for a popular movement" — on Saturday officially changed its name to "the Republicans" after a two-day vote by members.

The party, under the leadership of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is hoping that shedding its old name will also help unload some political baggage before the 2017 presidential race. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the former No. 2 of the UMP, said the name change had 96 percent support.

Republicans across the Atlantic might not recognize themselves in their French namesakes — few here would question universal health care, significantly reduce taxes or slash unemployment benefits.

But France's ruling Socialist party is happy to draw the comparison.