The Republican Right Vanishes
Renaud Muselier, the president of PACA, has quit Les Républicains. The reason: he believes that the party he helped to found has erased the line that used to divide it from the far right. His ire is directed in particular at Eric Ciotti, his longtime rival in the PACA region. Interestingly, Muselier invokes his family’s history of resistance to fascism as justification for his departure:
« Mon grand-père a donné la croix de Lorraine à la France Libre, mon père a été déporté à Dachau, l’ensemble de ma famille a été déporté et torturé. » « J’ai grandi dans le RPR sous Jacques Chirac, puis dans LR, j’ai été membre fondateur de l’UMP et de LR, mais je ne m’y retrouve pas aujourd’hui »,
It is hardly a surprise that Muselier detests Ciotti, who represents the rightmost wing of LR:
« On a un moment très important pour ma famille politique… Toute ma vie je me suis battu contre le Front national, et là on dit : “Ne touchez pas à Ciotti” ? »
What is more surprising is that supposedly more moderate Republicans, such as Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse, who themselves both condemned the rightward drift of LR and quit the party before returning to seek its presidential nomination, both condemned Muselier’s criticism of Ciotti’s overtures to the far right. Both candidates appear to recognize that the nomination cannot be won without appeasing those in the party who sympathize with Zemmour, Le Pen …. and Ciotti.
Ciotti, gleeful about his antagonist’s departure, has accused Muselier of being an agent of Macron’s LREM. In addition, both Michel Barnier, another supposed “moderate” LR presidential contender, sided with Ciotti against Muselier, as did Bruno Retailleau, the leader of the LR caucus in the Senate, while Bruno Le Maire, a former LR leader now aligned with the presidential majority, said that Muselier would be welcome in LREM, whose values he shares.
As Ciotti declared, Muselier’s fractious departure has been “clarifying”: LR has definitively crossed the once-impregnable line that divided the “republican” right from the far right. The formerly republican right has been co-opted by Emmanuel Macron.
Photo Credits: Renaud Muselier by Yann Bouvier (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.
Today we can see yet again how so-called primaries favor party extremists: Ciotti is in first place in the LR internal (s)election of its presidential candidate. It will be interesting to see if Pécresse can beat him in the second round.