The conservative French party “The Republicans” (LR) will conclude its leadership election today.
Though once governing France through presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, the party faces electoral irrelevance amid a disastrous result in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year. It’s candidate for the presidency Valerie Pecresse only won 4.7% of the vote this year compared to 20% for previous candidate Francois Fillon in 2017. Three candidates are running to become president of the party. Eric Ciotti and Bruno Retaileu both wish to shift the party to the right and focus on strict immigration policies while Aurelien Pradie is considered a moderate.
Despite new leadership, LR is unlikely to regain its prominence in French politics in the short to medium-term. Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron has largely absorbed the moderate support base of LR by shifting his own party to the centre-right. Meanwhile, a more right wing LR would have to compete with the far-right National Front led by Marie Le Pen. In the longer-term, LR may be able to regain lost supporters when Macron’s term expires if his party cannot rally around a successor.
Cian is a Research Analyst and contributes to both Analysis and the Daily Brief. He specializes in Australian and European geopolitics with a particular interest in the strategic autonomy of the EU.