Europe and refugees causes rift among the French right

The leaflet produced by the LR party is criticised for holding ideas too close to the far-right National Front

The theme of Europe and refugees is the main cause for division in the French conservative party Les Républicains. The leader of the party has dismissed its vice-president Virginie Calmels, who accused him of “defending his own ideas”. EURACTIV.fr reports.

The crisis brewing within the Republicans (Les Républicains, LR) erupted on Sunday (17 June) with the sudden dismissal of Calmels, who was replaced with Jean Leonetti.

In an interview with the Sunday edition of the French daily ‘Le Parisien’, Calmels once again denounced the “lack of a debate” on the content of an LR leaflet which held similar slogans to that of the Front National, drawing criticism from members close to Laurent Wauquiez, the party leader.

The leaflet “Pour que la France reste la France (So that France remains France)”, sparked a heated debate within the French right-wing and some MPs believe that the content of the leaflet reiterates some of the National Front’s ideas.

The leaflet, published on 1 June,  was the subject of a survey conducted on 11-12 June. According to the results of the survey, 63% of French respondents do not consider the LR slogan shocking, and this figure rises to 79% among LR sympathisers.

“The French are therefore indifferent to the anathemas launched against the leaflet and share the simple objective formulated by General de Gaulle on January 1, 1950: “So that France remains France,” stated a press statement issued by Les Républicains on 15 June.

However, the debate is still ongoing, particularly, among members close to Alain Juppé (former French prime minister and LR member), including Virginie Calmels.

In the Le Parisien interview, Calmels said Laurent Wauquiez “wants to defend his own ideas first, even if they are not shared by all.”

A total of 1.5 million copies of the leaflet were printed and distributed on 500,000 posters. The leaflet mostly touched on the theme of migration, with statements such as “there have never been so many immigrants [as now]”, “there has never been such a terrorist risk [as now]”, “there has never been such communitarian pressure” and “there has never been such an outbreak of delinquency”.

The leaflet also proposed a referendum on the theme, formulated as ‘it is up to the French to decide who enters France’.

Such a text would have easily been embraced by the far-right National Front, whose leader actually used the slogan to her benefit, by making fun of the LR.

The Republicans have organised what promises to be a heated debate on Europe in Menton on 30 June.

European conservatives reach out to sovereignists

Ahead of the European elections, the conservative group of the European Parliament is getting closer to French sovereignist parties such as Debout la France to fill the gap left by British MEPs. EURACTIV.fr reports.

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