Thursday, May 26

Republicans will wait until December to nominate their candidate

The EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, with the text of the agreement.

It is the formation with the greatest local and regional political power in France, but it may be ostracized in the race to the Elysee in 2022. The Republicans (LR, right) will wait until December 4 to elect their presidential candidate at a party congress. This national council of the republican right – the family heir to the Gaullism, although little remains of the General’s legacy — it has been a difficult birth for the LR leaders, who in recent months and years have doubted the best method of appointing their candidate in the presidential April next year.

Finally, they will have to settle for the image of apparent unity with which they arrive at this congress. During the last months, the risk of a schism loomed over the partners of the PP in France. The president of the Hauts-de-France (north) region, the sarcastic Xavier Bertrand, 56, threatened for months to appear in the race to the Elysee alone, through a personal platform. He wanted to have the implicit support of the LR apparatus, but at the same time to distance himself from the acronym of a party weighed down by the multiple cases of corruption of the former president Nicolas sarkozy. Despite his resounding victory in June in the regionals with 53% of the votes, the prospects of the uncharismatic Bertrand did not take off. On October 11, he reluctantly agreed to participate in the December congress and submit to the vote of the militants. His main rivals will be the president of the Île-de-France (Paris) region, Valérie Pécresse, 54, and Michel Barnier, 70, until recently the European Union negotiator for Brexit. Very uncertain internal voting

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Of the LR applicants, according to the last polls, the best positioned for 2022 is Bertrand, to whom they give 15% of the votes, while Pécresse and Barnier would settle for 10%. In all three cases they would be fourth, although not too far from second place to confront President Emmanuel Macron in the second round, which is currently disputed by the far-right Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour. Missing six months to the presidential and these opinion studies should be taken with a grain of salt. It is not at all clear that the LR militants take them into account for the congress. In fact, primaries or other types of internal voting have a reputation in France for being a lottery, in which the sympathizers do not choose the best candidate, but the one they prefer for their personal or ideological affinities.

In the midst of this uncertain panorama, the candidacy of Barnier. Far from his image as a European technocrat involved in the complex negotiations for the Brexit, this former minister tries to seduce LR militants radicalizing its postulates. For example, he argued that France should regain its sovereignty before European justice to deal with immigration, a position rather typical of the Polish right than of a former European commissioner. “I have always been faithful to my family a policy that I have never abandoned ”, Barnier often repeats, who, unlike Bertrand or Pécresse, did not announce in recent years that he would break with this historic party, which has fallen into disrepair at the national level, but which controls the majority of municipalities and regions.

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Five years ago, the LR primaries were key in the outcome of the last presidential elections. So his supporters chose the thatcherista and corrupt Francois Fillon, whose failure in the campaign catapulted Macron. Now its leaders hope that this internal vote will be decisive again, but in the opposite direction.

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