The rally, loyalty, and hard-right: if Laurent Wauquiez had climbed Mont Mézenc dressed as a presidential candidate, his speech would probably not have changed much. However, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is no longer one of them.
He returned as a “free man” on Sunday, August 29, three days after announcing his absence.
On the contrary, two other figures, former minister and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, and Alpes-Maritimes deputy Éric Ciotti, took advantage of the end of August to get out of the woods.
What about Denis Payre, the entrepreneur who applied on Sunday evening? With Valérie Pécresse and doctor-mayor Philippe Juvin already in the race, there are five of them who want to follow the rules that their camp has yet to implement for the spring of 2022.
With this in mind, the Republicans asked the Ifop polling institute to start a survey of right-wing supporters on Monday to put the various suitors to the test. And only those who have been officially declared are concerned.
The goal is to decide whether or not to hold an internal tie-breaking procedure a few months before the big election. “I believe the poll will confirm that nothing has been done and that the primary is required,” Jean Leonetti, the deputy in charge of finding a solution to this delicate situation, told L’Express on August 26.
But, without Xavier Bertrand, who continues to want to go it alone, or Laurent Wauquiez, the movement’s former president, who is well-liked by the militants, does this perilous process still have a chance on the right?
We also learned from his speech in Haute-Loire on Sunday that the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, who some thought held the fate of the primary in his hands, is not a big fan of the thing. He didn’t say anything.
“Today, it is clear that no candidate is imposed on the right. No candidate today has the strength and density to impose his candidacy as George Pompidou, General de Gaul or Nicolas Sarkozy had done at the time,” he said.
Since this moment for (him) has not yet come, he did not wish, in his words, “to add one more candidacy to this already far too fragmented landscape for (his) taste.”
Laurent Wauquiez has also decided not to support this or that profile for the time being. On the other hand, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, whose political weight will be lacking in a possible internal election, promises to put his “freedom” at the “service of unity.”
“We have paid the price for these sterile divisions far too often in the past. We never win alone; we win together,” he hammered in front of his activists, echoing what Valérie Pécresse had said the day before from Brive, where she was organizing the return of her movement Free!
The president of the Île-de-France region, the most well-known right-wing candidate, along with Xavier Bertrand, has increased calls to the Corrèze “collective.” According to Nicolas Sarkozy’s former Budget Minister, “in the end, it will take a single candidate from the right and the centre.”
And for that, nothing beats the well-known primary, which was widely praised by voters. “It is legitimate for supporters to choose their candidate. A democratic selection appears to me to be the most logical, fair, and allows us to select the candidate based on his project,” she explained again this Sunday on Europe 1 and CNews.
“Better a competition now than a division later,” she insisted, admitting she doesn’t understand why Republicans are opposed to such a move. Especially since, like the region’s president, the candidates who are less well-known to the general public all call for an internal election.
Without his first defender, Bruno Retailleau, who retreated in the final stretch, the primary found new support in Eric Ciotti, Michel Barnier, and Philippe Juvin.
But nothing is won in a political formation divided and still traumatized by François Fillon’s defeat in 2017. There’s also Xavier Bertrand to consider. The president of the Hauts-de-France region, who is still polling ahead of his opponents, is deaf to the sirens and refuses to participate in any internal tie-up.
“I don’t see how Bertrand can avoid a primary,” an elected, optimistic, this weekend in Brive, told newsmen. Otherwise, the right may be dragged back into the war of leaders it is familiar with. Or, in the words of Laurent Wauquiez, who used a famous formula, stay “the dumbest in the world.”