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The weakened French right elects Wauquiez to lead the opposition to Macron

Laurent Wauquiez, the new head of the Republicans should look for their space between the president and the National Front

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The weakened French right elects Wauquiez to lead the opposition to Macron

The French right, ruined after suffering ravages of wave macron in last presidential elections, has a new leader. Laurent Wauquiez, current president of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, was elected this Sunday leader of Republicans, great Conservative Party of France. Wauquiez, of 42 years, will have to redefine identity of its party between a president, Emmanuel Macron, which occupies today space of right, and a National Front that for many French remains a party outlawed in right wing.

The victory of Wauquiez before two minor opponents, Florence Portelli and Maël de Calan, was expected. The first unknown was to know dimensions of his victory and abstention among about 235,000 militants of Republicans, who pass for low hours. The victory is overwhelming and unappealable: 74.64% of militants who were mobilized opted for Wauquiez; 16.11% by Portelli; De Calan, 9.25%. To super 50% of votes, it is not necessary a second round. Participation is more modest: 42.46% of registered voters voted, less than 100,000. In presidential primaries of right one year ago participated 4.4 million. It is true that n it was not necessary to be militant to vote, but comparison gives a measure of deficit of current enthusiasm.

The second question is to know what Republicans will be — heir party of UMP of Nicolas Sarkozy, RPR of Jacques Chirac, and various incarnations of movement founded by General de Gaulle — under leadership of Wauquiez. A transversal party, such as Gaullism and Chirac and Sarkozy parties in ir triumphant moments? Or a conservative right-wing party, dangerously close to FN, and incapable of contesting hegemony of Marching Republic of Macron?

The third unknown will be to know wher Wauquiez is able to assert himself as leader of opposition to Macron, a president who since he came to power in May has had fortune to govern without a real opposition. In part, thanks to comfortable majority that enjoys in National Assembly, and partly because no leader has emerged with an alternative program. Marine Le Pen, leader of FN and Macron's rival in presidential run-off, seems to have disappeared from public debate. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of alternative left of Unsubmissive France, aspired for a few months to this role, but failed in its attempt to derail work reform of Macron and its voice has been diluted. Wauquiez aspires to take over, to become — he does — in face of alternation in a France in which he now dominates everything.

Wauquiez needs to impose itself on a French right prone to fratricidal fights. The presidential elections and first months of Macron in Elysium have exposed se divisions with all its crudeness. The failure of presidential candidacy of François Fillon, who was a favorite and not even qualified for second round in May, opened a civil war that Wauquiez will try to close. He won't have it easy. Prominent politicians on right entered Macron government — including Prime Minister Edouard Philippe — and ors directly entered Republic in March. Ors have formed a new party, Agir! (ACT). And anor group has remained inside, but sees with great reticence leadership of Wauquiez, a politician with a reputation for duro who has flirted with Euroscepticism and identity nationalism, to point that leaders of FN see it with good eyes.

Wauquiez denies again and again that he will agree with FN. The strategy — which President Nicolas Sarkozy has already rehearsed — consists not so much in agreeing but in attracting electorate of Ultra party and adding it to a ' Republican ' party. That is to say, in French political jargon, identified with values of Republic, of which majority parties exclude FN. The risk of this strategy is to end up buying FN's policies — on Europe and on immigration, for example — and by giving m a letter of Democratic nobility. Anor risk — this, tactical — is that with Wauquiez Republicans move away so much from center that y give this space, and that of right, to Macron, whose first economic reforms — liberalization of labor market or reduction of tax on fortune — They match program on right. Historical leaders such as Alain Juppe — and even Sarkozy — have not concealed ir sympathies for current French president.

The advantage of Wauquiez: You have time to consolidate your project. Its objective is 2022, year of upcoming presidential elections. One day it will end state of grace of Macron. One day French will look for anor leader. He wants to be re to introduce himself as alternative. The reconstruction work has begun.

Derechismo without complexes

Laurent Wauquiez belongs to generation of Emmanuel Macron, y take two years. As president, he exhibits a brilliant academic curriculum. With a difference in favor of Wauquiez: he managed to enter higher Normal School — educational institution of intellectual elite —; Macron suspended access contest. More differences: Macron entered late in politics and without a defined ideological corpus. Wauquiez, who has been mayor, deputy and minister, launched race for leadership of his party, Republicans, as a right winger without complexes. And anor difference with Macron: Wauquiez, a man so detested by his adversaries as capable of creating loyalties among his own, he chairs Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, thus having a foot in local France, far from Parisian bubble.

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