There is water in the gas at Les Républicains. One week before the congress which must designate the presidential candidate, from December 1 to 4, the party multiplies the bickering, even the ruptures. Renaud Muselier, Xavier Bertrand and Eric Ciotti are notably at the heart of new quarrels.
And for good reason: the first has quite simply decided to leave the party, of which he had been a member for 35 years. Renaud Muselier, president of the powerful Paca region, announced this Wednesday, November 24, his departure from the Republicans. He denounces a “drift” of his former political family towards the extreme right and designates Eric Ciotti, deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes, as the main responsible.
From 4/12, I intend to campaign with all the candidates including my friend @ECiotti. No one will make me reverse this decision. It is the spirit of unity and the condition of victory against Emmanuel Macron. – (2/2)
– Xavier Bertrand (@xavierbertrand) November 23, 2021
The latter has already said that he would prefer to vote Eric Zemmour, not yet a candidate, rather than Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the presidential election, if the opportunity arose. Renaud Muselier accuses him of “conveying the ideas” of the polemicist “inside LR” and has gone so far as to qualify Eric Ciotti as “false nose of the extreme right”. Words condemned by several LR figures such as Michel Barnier or Valérie Pécresse.
Xavier Bertrand, for his part, judged these attacks “unacceptable”, even refusing the support of Renaud Muselier, who designated him Tuesday as his “personal choice” in the race for the LR nomination. This position taken by the president of Hauts-de-France has earned him some criticism, given that he himself had left Les Républicains in 2017, for reasons similar to those invoked today by Renaud Muselier. At the time, Xavier Bertrand was opposed to the appointment of Laurent Wauquiez at the head of the party, judging him too right for his taste.
“What is our porosity with the extreme right?”
Knowing that Eric Ciotti recently stated that he would appoint the same Laurent Wauquiez as Prime Minister if he were elected president, Xavier Bertrand’s support for the Alpes-Maritimes MP surprises some observers. Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice and former LR, considered that the president of the Hauts-de-France had “simply put a knee on the ground”.
For his part, Renaud Muselier believes that “the question is simple: what is our porosity with the extreme right? The answer is not at all clear ”. Today, the one who “fought against the National Front all his life” thinks that his political ex-family is “in very great danger”. An opinion that Eric Ciotti does not share. On Twitter, the deputy for Alpes-Maritimes welcomed the departure of his rival, wishing “Good luck at En Marche!” to Renaud Muselier.
In reality, this new disunity risks weakening a political family already relegated to fourth position in the polls, behind Emmanuel Macron and the extreme right. During the regional Paca, the positioning against LREM had already posed a problem and led to the resignation of the Republicans of Christian Estrosi and Hubert Falco, respectively mayors of Nice and Toulon. At the time, Eric Ciotti and Renaud Muselier had already opposed, the first activist so that LR withdraws his support in Paca to the second. Months later, it seems the question is still dividing.