With 60.95% of the votes in favor, the liberal and moderate Valérie Pécresse was elected this Saturday by the militants of Los Republicanos as a candidate of the conservative right in the race for the Elysee, although she will have to make concessions to the most identitarian wing of the party to avoid the flight of votes to extremism.
“For the first time in its history, the party of Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy will have a candidate for the presidential election. I am thinking today of all the women of France. Thanks to the militants for their audacity “Pécresse said after learning the results.
In front of her, the deputy Éric Ciotti, president of the departmental council of the Alpes-Maritimes (southeast), has recovered 39.05% of the votes, remaining in a worthy second place that few expected. Ciotti, who leads the most conservative values in training and whose ideology is closest to the discourse of the extreme rightists Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour on issues such as the nation, the country’s (white) identity and the fight against immigration, was the surprise of the first round of these internal primaries by beating Michel Barnier and Xavier Betrand, who seemed to have more chances.
Barnier and Bertrand, as well as the fifth candidate, Philippe Juvin, who was far behind, gave their backing to Pécresse for this second round. However, the 44,000 votes obtained by Ciotti show that not all voters followed the slogans of their leaders. Thus, Pécresse wins the primary but Ciotti looks like the winner in a speech “without complexes” that many on the traditional right did not share or did not dare to share.
As a nod to the right-wing voters, Pécresse will launch the campaign in the surroundings of Nice, which in addition to being the Ciotti region is one of the most porous to the speeches of the extreme right.
“I pledge to Ciotti to restore French pride and protect the French. Today I feel the anger of a people who feel powerless in the face of violence and the rise of Islamist separatism, who feel threatened in their way of life by uncontrolled immigration , impotent also by the weight of the debt and the bureaucracy, “said Pécresse.
Liberalism in the economy, lower taxes and reduction of bureaucracy and firmness in the control of immigration are thus the first proposals of the Pécresse project. His party obtained in the last elections 20% during the first round of the presidential elections, but affected by the judicial scandals that plagued his candidate, François Fillon, he did not reach the second round. That 20% would now be a bombshell for Pécresse, which according to the first polls of voting intention obtained only 10.2%.
“There is no need to be an extremist”
The candidate’s goal is to shoot at Macron, whom she dismissed as not being clear and seeking only to please everyone, while caressing voters on the right who might be interested in turning toward Le Pen or, above all, Zemmour. “There is no need to be extremist or insulting. No divider in our history has been a savior. We are going to tear the page from Macron without tearing pages from our history,” said the right-wing, who currently presides over the Paris region.
Pécresse was also a member of the Government of Chirac and Sarkozy, with whom she was Minister of Higher Education, which has given her not only visibility among her militants, but also consolidates her image of loyalty. His message after the victory was addressed to all French people (it began with the “My dear compatriots” that the presidents of the Republic sing), but also to those of his party, introducing in his speech proposals from his companions and demanding the rebirth of the French right.
Together with her, Ciotti declared that after having recognized in interviews that he would vote for Zemmour before Macron in a second round, he left no doubt today that he is loyal to his party and that this second place is in a way a personal victory. in favor of a “clear, strong and open right”. The first pre-campaign rally of the elected leader of this primary was to take place on December 11, but the party has decided to cancel it due to the deterioration of the health situation. In parallel, this Sunday, Zemmour organizes its first meeting in Paris. His circle assures that they expect about 19,000 participants.