The Right Fractures

1 June 2021

The warning signs have been present for some time. Les Républicains are on the verge of a crackup. Caught between Macron’s LRM and Le Pen’s RN, the party’s electoral space has been shrinking. Without a strong leader to hold together its authoritarian nationalist and technocratic-managerial wings, it finds itself rudderless as its erstwhile supporters and cadre jump overboard one after another.

Petty chieftains out to save their own skins are heading in opposite directions: first Renaud Muselier, president of the PACA regional council, entered into a pact with LRM, and now Guillaume Peltier, the party’s no. 2, who began his career in politics in the youth wing of the FN, has shocked his comrades with a proposal for a “court of exception” with the power to try and convict “terrorists” without any recourse after conviction.

Peltier had previously said that he finds the idea of a “republican front” obsolete and that there is no reason to view the RN as a party that must be kept out of government. He is clearly using the current anxiety over lone-wolf terrorist attacks to stake out a position as the most Le Pen-friendly of LR politicians, paving the way to cooperation and even coalition should Le Pen win the presidency.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen is openly speculating about the possibility of including LR personalities such as Eric Ciotti and Nadine Morano in her future government. The meltdown of the “republican right” is happening just as Macron envisioned, but if, as seems likely, it strengthens Le Pen’s hand heading into the regional and then the presidential election, he may still rue the day he decided that his best option was to asphyxiate LR by transforming LRM into a party of the right.

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