France’s centre right fights for survival and cash after vote drubbing



It was going to be bad. It turned out to be worse. Conservative Valerie Pecresse scored below 5% in the first round of the France’s presidential election, the centre right’s lowest score in modern history and one which threatens its survival. When the first projections flashed up as polling stations closed, stunned Pecresse supporters gasped: “What now?”

Having failed to cross the vote threshold needed to ensure her campaign expenses were partly refunded, Pecresse on Monday asked for urgent donations by mid-May to save the party as it look towards the legislative elections in June.

“What is at the stake is the very survival of Les Republicains and beyond, the very survival of the Right,” she said on arrival for an emergency party meeting. Only a decade ago, Nicolas Sarkozy was readying himself to run for a second mandate after almost 17 years of centre-right rule in France.

Now, the Les Republicains party’s existence is under threat after its voters turned to incumbent Emmanuel Macron, far-right challenger Marine Le Pen and extreme-right candidate Eric Zemmour, seeing no value in casting their ballots for the traditional right.

The movement has struggled to remain relevant since Macron became president in 2017. He has been able to dynamite the Socialist party, which also got record low support on Sunday 10 years after Francois Hollande beat Sarkozy for the presidency in 2012, and capture a chunk of centre-right supporters as he promised a neither left nor right political offering. read more

His economic policies overlap with theirs and as he has sought to siphon votes from the right by toughening his stance on security and immigration over the last 18 months, that has increasingly divided centre-right voters and politicians who have been unable to find a clear vision for their party.—Reuters


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