The French Republicans: kingmakers?

epa08434491 French rightist party Les Republicans' Christian Jacob arrives at the Prime minister's Hotel Matignon official residence in Paris, France, 20 May 2020 for a meeting gathering French Prime minister, members of the Government and political party leaders on measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease. EPA-EFE/THOMAS COEX / POOL MAXPPP OUT [EPA / THOMAS COEX / POOL]

As the legislative elections conclude, the right-wing alliance that includes Les Républicains (LR) finished with about 70 seats in the new National Assembly and is positioned as a potential kingmaker in this parliamentary recomposition at work.

The party is holding its own, despite the debacle of the presidential election, when Valérie Pécresse obtained only 4.78 per cent of the vote. Most of its tenors have been reappointed for a new term.

“Given the result of the presidential election, it is a very good result that we have achieved today” since “we are in the high range” of forecasts, said the president of the party Christian Jacob on Sunday (19 June).

However, the number of seats his party got is significantly lower than in 2017, when with 22.23% of the votes cast in the second round, LR became the leading opposition force to Emmanuel Macron with 112 deputies.

As the country undergoes a considerable political reconfiguration after these elections, LR becomes potentially unavoidable in a hypothetical coalition with Ensemble! – which would allow the presidential movement to recover the deputies needed to have an absolute majority of 289 seats.

According to Jacob, these results are due to the excellent “local anchoring” that the party enjoys, but for Mathieu Gallard, research director at Ipsos France, the “very good vote transfers” that LR candidates have been able to benefit from are also to take into consideration, regardless of the duel configurations.

“LR, which was present in 90 constituencies in the second round, won almost 75 of them. This is a huge rate. It’s unheard of,” he told EURACTIV France.

Finally, the LR electorate, on average older than average and retired, tends to vote more than the rest of the population.

French elections : final results, second round

Les électeurs français étaient invités à se présenter aux urnes les dimanche 12 et 19 juin pour élire la nouvelle Assemblée Nationale. EURACTIV France, en partenariat avec Europe Elects, vous offre en instantané les premières estimations ainsi que les résultats définitifs.

Government pact or head-on opposition?

The issue of a potential government pact with the majority remains unresolved. Jean-François Copé, a former minister under Nicolas Sarkozy and former party leader, explained ” on a personal basis “on BFMTV ” that a government pact is vital between Macron and LR in order to fight against the rise of the extremes “.

“We campaigned in the opposition, we are in the opposition, we will remain in the opposition”, said Jacob.

The LR party had suffered from many departures of its executives to the presidential majority – including former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, now president of the Horizons party, a member of the presidential coalition Ensemble.

Damien Abad, former president of the LR group in the National Assembly, is the latest high-profile official to move to Macron’s side following the presidential election.

Appointed Minister of Solidarity in May in the new government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, Abad was comfortably re-elected in the Ain (57.86%), despite accusations of rape and sexual violence against him, which he refutes.

Caught between the presidential movement Ensemble! on the one hand, and the far-right parties on the other, the Republicans had long hesitated about the best campaign strategy, but the local anchoring of some local barons seems to have paid off.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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