A Fatal Turn

11 December 2022

Les Républicains have chosen their new leader: Eric Ciotti. After Valérie Pécresse’s flameout in the presidential election, the choice was no doubt inevitable. It is nevertheless dismaying to have the former mainstream party of the right led by a man who stated during the presidential campaign that in a contest between Macron and Zemmour, he would vote for Zemmour. Nothing remains to prevent an eventual coalition of LR with RN.

Ciotti has already chosen his candidate for the next presidential election: Laurent Wauquiez, who turned his back on the possibility of again leading LR, having found that he gained nothing from his previous opportunity. Wauquiez knows that once Macron is out of the picture, the presidential contest on the right will be very complicated indeed, and he will need more freedom of maneuver than leadership of a party with LR’s base would have afforded him. He will have to contend with the likes of Philippe, Le Maire, Bertrand, and who knows how many others and will need a more protean persona than the hidebound LR base can abide, contented as it has shown itself to be with the choice between right (Retailleau) and righter (Ciotti). The third contestant for the leadership, the youthful Aurélien Pradié, who claimed to embody the “sensible right” and was once thought to be close to Bertrand, eventually threw his support to the eminently senseless  Ciotti, no doubt because the handwriting on the wall was clear enough: Ciotti was going to be the winner. Even the old Gaullist diehards Baroin and Jacob indicated their capitulation to the inevitable.

Despite Ciotti’s rhetorical preference for Zemmour over Macron, LR has yet to support a censure motion stemming from either the left or right flanks, thus allowing Macron to continue governing via Article 49-3, which has been used quite liberally (9 times to date) since the unanticipated humiliation of Macronism in the legislative elections. This is unlikely to change unless there is a discernible shift in the underlying rapport de force. LR has no interest in going to the polls now. And having consummated its capitulation to the far right, it’s hard to see how its fortunes are likely to improve in the immediate future.

The French party system is today a more confused mess than ever. Macron has succeeded in pulverizing the whole kit and caboodle, left, right, and center, leaving the RN as the only relatively coherent political force still standing. Today, even the Trotskyites succumbed to the general discombobulation: the NPA has split in two. Quelle époque!



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