The right is organizing for the election of the president of the party. If the electoral timetable is clear for the time being, the outcome of the vote is less so. After the withdrawal of Laurent Wauquiez, who to ensure the leadership of LR?
[Mis à jour le 20 juin 2022 à 10h03] It is now official. The first round of the election to the Presidency of the Republicans will take place this winter, and will be preceded by a campaign which will begin in the fall, as specified by Annie Genevard, the interim president. Occupying the position since the departure of Christian Jacob in June, the latter will retire to make way for the future designated by the vote of the party congress. Yes, but who? Laurent Wauquiez, the great favorite of the barons of the party, quickly withdrew in favor of other ambitions, more… Presidential. In a letter published on his social networks, Laurent Wauquiez, the former minister and current president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region announced that he would give up running for the LR presidency, the election of which will take place in the fall. Instead, he intends to “devote all his energy” to the “refoundation” that he thinks essential to the country. Saying he is determined to “go beyond the questions of apparatus”, he says he wants to be at the “meeting of the great democratic choice of 2027”, enough to suggest that he aspires to the highest of presidencies, that of the Republic.
Be that as it may, his withdrawal reshuffles the cards, and leaves a big question mark surrounding the future of a party which sorely needs “a beacon”, to use the formula of Christian Jacob, who returned his party chairman hat earlier this month. The latter indeed confided to Le Figaro that the Republicans were in need of incarnation. In fact, while the right that they embody tends to impose itself as the pivotal parliamentary group of this new fragmented Assembly, the absence of leadership is felt. If the presidency of rue Vaugirard is currently held by the deputy president Annie Genevard, the election would be the ideal opportunity to close ranks. But without Laurent Wauquiez in the equation, who can claim the position? A name comes up regularly: that of the young secretary general of the party, Aurélien Bradié, who embodies a “new guard” in search of renewal. If she failed to have Julien Dive elected as chairman of the group in the Assembly (Olivier Marleix having finally won on June 22), she is betting on this elected representative from Lot, a bearer of values that want to be more modern, more social, more united. Who are his potential adversaries? We take stock of the stakes of this election.
Let’s go ! Potential candidates for the election have until October 3, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the latest to file the required sponsorships with the High Authority, which will publish the official list of candidates on October 18. After a campaign that could last two months, the first round of the congress will be held from December 3, 2022 at 6 p.m. to Sunday December 4, 2022 at 6 p.m. If none of the candidates has obtained the majority of the votes cast during this first vote, a second round will be organized on December 10 and 11, 2022.
If the October 2019 congress had taken place without surprises, Christian Jacob, the widely favored candidate, having won in the first round with more than 62% of the votes, this time, the suspense should be there. Especially since the future president may have a presidential future: “We must definitively get rid of the primaries, which I have also taken out of the LR statutes, and my successor must be intended to be a candidate in 2027”, explained Christian Jacob during an interview available on the Republicans website.
The resignation of Christian Jacob made some waves. Former minister, former mayor of Provins and ex-president of the UMP group then LR in the Assembly (from 2010 to 2019), he took the lead of the party in October 2019. Known for his ability to federate, he had brought the party together in view of the 2022 electoral period. However, the formation, weakened by the results of the elections, is today crossed by quite diverse political and ideological lines, threatening its unity. Few subjects there are unanimous, starting with the legacy left by Christian Jacob. Le Monde cited Aurélien Pradié’s admiration for its former “Chiraquian” president, who was able to pass on his experience to the new guard. But the media also quoted MEP Brice Hortefeux who is more nuanced about the former boss, evoking his lack of incarnation of the function and his “non-presidential” side.
In addition, this departure from rue Vaugirard comes when the President of the Republic was in the midst of negotiations with the leaders of the opposition party. The LR group in fact occupies a role of choice within this new Assembly without a majority, torn between two oppositions that could not be more divergent (namely the Nupes and the RN). With some 70 deputies, the Republican right could be the adequate ally of a presidential camp in difficulty since the loss of the absolute majority on June 19th. The choice of its leader will therefore be crucial in the future of French political life and will determine part of the balance of power within the hemicycle.
The party is reorganizing itself as a whole. The election of Olivier Marleix at the head of the parliamentary group on June 22 marked a turning point, shortly after the departure of Damien Abad, conquered by the macronie. And the changes won’t stop there. Cécile Richez, until then the party’s communications director, will be replaced by Marie-Eve Malouines, Anne Genevard’s current communications officer. For her part, Cécile Richez should become general secretary from September. She will succeed in this capacity to Jean-François Verdier, who will for his part be placed in the administration of the party.
Deputy Vice-President of the Republicans since 2021, Annie Genevard has held the interim party presidency since July 1. This mission, it should ensure it at least for five months, the time that the elections are held designating the official president in the fall.
Representative of the new generation of the party, Aurélien Pradié is one of the most credible potential candidates. Close to Christian Jacob, he became secretary general of the Republicans after the latter’s election as party president in October 2019. Very active on the ground in Occitania, he was successively general councilor of Lot, mayor of Cœur de Causse and regional councilor of Occitania. From his beginnings in politics, he mixed his attachment to the territory with his career ambitions by becoming president of the Young UMP du Lot. In 2022, he was re-elected deputy for the 1st constituency of the Lot following a remarkable campaign in the region.
Ideologically, he claims to belong to the social wing of the party, that of George Pompidou, and has often engaged in social issues such as poverty, disability or violence against women. He questions the preponderance of economic liberalism in society and believes that social issues should count as much as the sovereign aspect of governance. Questioned by MidiLibre, he evoked the “national message” sent by the voters to the legislative elections: “Among those who score the best at Les Républicains, they are candidates of the new generation or those who carry a popular political message and social justice. “. Thus defending his political lineage, he affirmed: “It is the path of political reconstruction that we must take”. For Aurélien Pradié and the republican youth he embodies, the idea of the end of an era is “a reality”, and it is time to “take over”.
The new guard is getting organized… But that’s without counting on the tenacity of the old ones. Opposite, the name of the mayor of Troyes François Baroin is also circulating. The former president of the Association of Mayors of France and great supporter of François Fillon in the 2017 presidential election could well be the second on the list of the most anticipated personalities. We also think of the president of the Hauts-de-France regional council Xavier Bertrand, who returns to the front of the stage despite his heavy defeat in the party’s primary in December 2021 (given favorite, he finished fourth with 22.4% votes in the first round). A great opponent of Laurent Wauquiez, he even left the party in 2017, when the latter took the lead; he could this time challenge him in this race for the presidency. David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes and president of the Association of Mayors of France, would also have some ambitions for the return, and many are those who imagine him campaigning in September. Finally, the very right-handed Eric Ciotti, currently quaestor of the National Assembly and emblematic character of his region, the Alpes-Maritimes, could potentially be interested in this election. Fallen candidate of the primary of the right last year, he intends to count in the future of a party that he has never left despite external appeals (in particular from Eric Zemmour). By the start of the school year, certain details should be provided on the candidates for this long-awaited election.