Eric Ciotti, Bruno Retailleau, Aurélien Pradié, three consecutive Republicans are running for the presidency

More than six months after the debacle of the presidential election, it is time for introspection in the Les Républicains (LR) party. The future of the party will be in the program of congresses to be held on December 3-4 and December 10-11, when militants are called to elect a new leader. Three contenders are competing to take over from Christian Jacob: Alpes-Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti, the president of the LR group in the Senate Bruno Retailleau and the young deputy of Lot Aurélien Pradié.

In addition to the race for party leadership, the convention is a test of Republican unity. How to clarify the ideological line of this political family between Macroni and the extreme right? What strategy should be developed for the upcoming deadlines? A look at the profiles of the candidates to understand the interests of this election.

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Three candidates, three ranks

  • Eric Ciotti, candidate of the right line, favorite of the militants
Eric Ciotti presents his sponsorship for the presidency of the Les Republicains party at the headquarters of the Republicans in Paris, November 2, 2022.

At the age of 56, Eric Ciotti is at the peak of his political form. He gained a lasting position of influence within his party after coming unexpectedly second to Valery Pécresse during the LR congress for the fall 2021 presidential election. He wants to continue his national rise with the chairmanship of the party. In June, this media personality, who was easily elected as the deputy of the Alpine-Sea Islands for the fourth consecutive term, has long held a right-wing position among the Republicans. Mr. Ciotti has made the big issues — security, immigration, justice — his favorite topics and said he is defending a line. “clear” In terms of ideas that will set the course for LR for years to come.

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Considered a ballot favorite due to his strong popularity among right-wing activists, he already boasts the solid support of his department’s prestigious federation, the first in France, with 3,500 members. In the Alpes-Maritimes deputy camp, he is particularly supported by the deputies Eric Pauget and Michel Tabarot or the president of the young LR, Guilhem Carayon.

In his race to 238 rue de Vaugirard, Eric Ciotti organizes a kind of “ticket” with a particularly weighty figure: Laurent Wauquiez, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. “courage” and his clarity » ideological. Not surprisingly, the two nominees both come from the right wing of the party, and Eric Ciotti has been willing to repeat since he began his congressional race that he would support the appointment if elected. “From 2023” Mr. Wauquiez as the party’s 2027 presidential candidate, without going through the primary box.

  • Bruno Retailleau, determined curator and candidate for elected officials
Bruno Retailleau, at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, for a meeting on pension reform, 21 September 2022.

The head of the LR senators is counting on his image as an elected candidate to convince activists. Bolstered by the respect he has earned in eight years in the Senate, Bruno Retailleau intends to capitalize on the compromise work he has done at the head of the group to distinguish himself from Mr. Ciotti. The fact is that the 61-year-old senator from Vendee shares a position on the right wing of the LR with the elected representative from the south. In addition to royal subjects, Bruno Retalleau, a philanthropist from the beginning who claims to belong to the Catholic right, is known for his conservative positions on social issues – he stood out during the 2013 debate on “marriage for all”.

Official account selected by Philippe de Villiers from the Movement for France “carrying out a civilizational policy”so topics “Economic degradation and cultural dispossession ” or even “patriotism” not, in his opinion, “The sole authority of Marine Le Pen or Eric Zemmour”.

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Embarrassed after François Fillon’s defeat in 2017, he has launched a domestic front against a possible 2022 presidential bid. Bruno Retailleau can now count on strong support, including Senate President Gérard Larcher, MEP Francois-Xavier Bellamy or even Valéry Pécres and Ile Vice-President Othman Nasrou on a rather unexpected one. -de-France region.

As for the future of the party and the next presidential elections, the senator is betting on a completely different strategy than his main opponent, claiming that he wants to buy his time.. “If we appoint a candidate too early, we surrender to our intellectual laziness” He believed this by warning “Fransinfo” on October 25 “if [LR] if he stumbles, we will electrocute our candidate.” He prefers the appointment of the future leader by battle“after [élections] Europe » 2024. Meanwhile, “Everything must change” at the party nominated the candidate JDD, Sunday, October 30. “Les Républicains brand is dead”argued for the construction of“a popular and patriotic party that can bring together all right-wing voters”.

  • Aurélien Pradié, a young official elected from the “social right”.
Lot Aurélien Pradié's deputy, during the first major oral of the candidates for the presidency of the Les Républicains party, in La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône), September 17, 2022.

He also wants to end Les Républicains. Lot claims that Aurélien Pradié’s deputy is nominated “break” : “We have to change everything: the name, the headquarters, our organization, our message”he assured when announcing his candidacy. He repeats that he wants to put the right behind him “people’s way”. The third candidate for this congress, a 36-year-old elected official, claims Chiraquian affiliation and has made himself the spokesman for the young LR guard.

In his own camp, Aurélien Pradie is often suspected of being too far to the left. He claims himself “right right”, but from “social right”. At Hemicycle, she has been particularly prominent on issues of violence against women, disability, the environment, jobs and affordability. If he remains firm on immigration and security, Mr Pradie differs from his colleagues on the bench on pensions. He opposes raising the retirement age and calls for reform instead “based on annuities”.

Among LR’s caciques, Lotois’ outspokenness and willingness to overturn the table earned him some enmity. Aurélien Pradié is far from the favorite on the ballot, but the young guard, which includes deputies Pierre-Henri Dumont, Julien Dive and even Raphaël Schellenberger, can count on the support of the rest of the LR. In recent months, he has also appealed to Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region.

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In about 2027, Mr. Pradie shares Mr. Retailleau’s line, given that he is not. “I’m not sure it’s a service to nuke our future candidate in January.”. With that, he confirmed that the time for appointing a candidate has not expired and it is necessary to gather him first “background work”. One thing is certain: like his two rivals, he does not plan to be both the leader of the party and its suitor at the Elysée.

What do they agree on?

  • Turning the page on sarcozism

The break is closing in between the Republican presidential contenders and the party founder, long the undisputed leader of the right. On October 23, the former president of the republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke again. “political agreement” The president said that he was between his camp and his party, and that he wanted Emmanuel Macron himself “covenant” With LR, all three rejected the idea outright.

Like most of their party ranks, MM Retailleau, Ciotti and Pradié all assume a fault line with Mr Sarkozy, since the latter chose to back Emmanuel Macron rather than Valéry Pécresse during the presidential election. Eric Ciotti echoed it “quite the opposite” To agree with the government that dear Sarkozy begged : “We are not allied with a power that would do so much damage to France. » Mr. Retailleau told him he had “Another ambition for LR than to make it a simple arm of Macronism”Aurélie Pradie repeated that he was the former Head of State “Now it belongs to our political past”.

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  • Refusal of “Union of Rights”.

Moreover, LR’s presidential candidates refuse to form an alliance with the extreme right, without changing course since the presidential campaign. The latest celebration of the “union of rights” in Sweden and Italy, the repeated foot calls by some far-right figures like Eric Zemmur, and even the sharing of favorite topics, do not change anything, they assure.

Aurelien Pradie, the more moderate of his two rivals, strongly opposed it throughout his presidential campaign. Eric Ciotti again rejected this assumption, never hiding his friendship with Eric Zemmur. “will only lead to [la] don’t disappear” From LR. For his part, Bruno Retailleau confirmed this “union of rights” There was no “no future”and said he hoped it would come true instead “by the voters”.

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