The deputies of the Les Républicains (LR) party had begun to anticipate the electoral slap received by the right in the presidential election, a few weeks before the first round. Initiating what they called “survival mode”, many of them have deserted Valérie Pécresse’s campaign to take care of their own, which will see them put their seats in the National Assembly back into play on June 12 and 19. . By criss-crossing their constituencies in order to save what can be saved.
With less than 5% for their presidential candidate, it is out of the question for LR contenders in the legislative elections to be associated in any way with the image of their party at the national level. The calculation is simple: in national elections, LR has tended to lose since 2017, each time sinking a little deeper into the abyss that makes small parties. Conversely, performance and victory can be at the rendezvous during local elections, where competitors mainly rely on their names and their results, as was the case in municipal and regional elections during the last five-year period.
As a result, several LR candidates for the legislative elections have chosen to make this ballot “a cantonal election”. No party logos on their posters or in their leaflets, nor need a national figure to lead the battle on behalf of all. The disparities of profiles and lines are such according to the territories that a single name could not make the synthesis.
The risk of being forgotten by voters
Unlike the candidates of competing parties, such as those of the outgoing majority, who inscribe Emmanuel Macron’s face on campaign material, or those of the National Rally (RN) or the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), who proudly pose alongside Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, aspiring deputies and outgoing LRs prefer not to appear with Valérie Pécresse. These candidates therefore rely above all on themselves to get by on June 12 and 19. “In the constituencies, we are heard. We cannot complain about hyper-presidentialization and, at the same time, claim that individual deputies are not responsible for their actions. We are coherent and free ”, tries to summarize Raphaël Schellenberger, deputy of Haut-Rhin.
Some, however, are beginning to doubt this strategy. By dint of focusing on the local and no longer giving a voice at the national level, the right risks simply being forgotten by voters. “It is potentially a losing strategy, regrets MEP François-Xavier Bellamy, because the other forces present are playing the national card in an election that is national. The former head of the 2019 European list recalls that Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s strategy, which consists of personalizing the ballot by making it the third round of the presidential election from which the Prime Minister will come, can harm LR.
Frightened by the prospect of a cohabitation with the left, certainly unlikely, the right-wing or center-right voter could turn to the Macronist candidates in order to ensure a majority for the elected president. And this even if the balance sheet of the outgoing LR is good, specifies Mr. Bellamy. “The campaign should be embodied to recall common values and show that voting for an LR deputy makes sense,” insists the MEP.
Free field for other oppositions
Other party officials also point out that by dint of deserting the national field, the right, which until now has the largest group of deputies in number after that of the majority in the National Assembly, has not existed on no topic that has been in the news lately. It thus left the field open to other opposition on questions such as the composition of the government. “We cannot let the French think that there is nothing left between Emmanuel Macron and the two poles of radicalism that are the Nupes and the RN”, enjoins the senator (LR) of Vendée Bruno Retailleau, well aware of the importance of “grounding”.
“Local anchorage will make the difference of course, but you need voices that embody LR”, abounds Xavier Bertrand, who wants to convince right-wing voters of the need to bring right-wing deputies to the Assembly who are not “blessed-yes-yes”. For the former Minister of Labor, many themes must be put forward to make a difference with the majority, such as the purchasing power of the middle classes or security.
The president of the Hauts-de-France region will support the LR candidates who wish to precisely ensure this incarnation. A way also for him to position himself as essential for the future and to ensure his possible presidential ambition a national base. Ditto for Laurent Wauquiez, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, who regularly participates in public meetings with LR candidates. Candidate in the 5th district of the Alpes-Maritimes against the outgoing Marine Brenier, rallied to the majority La République en Marche, Christelle d’Intorni chose to include on her poster the photo of another senior party official, Eric Ciotti. “I’m on the right and I make no apologies for being so, and Eric Ciotti is a great figure both nationally and locally,” she explains.