At home, everyone was trying to make a difference. On the occasion of a unique televised debate organized by LCI, in the run-up to the congress of the Republicans (LR), the three contenders for the presidency of the party – Vendée senator Bruno Retailleau, Alpes-Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti and Lot Aurélien Pradié – crossed swords for an hour and a half on Monday, November 21.
A year after the nomination of the 2022 presidential candidates, 91,000 members of the right-wing party are called to electronic ballot boxes on the weekends of December 3-4 and 10-11. This election should allow LR to turn the page on political consistency, a test marked last April by Valeri Pekres’ heavy defeat (4.8%) and the dissension that threatened to break it.
After more than a month of campaigning, the three candidates to succeed Christian Yakub attempted a balancing act on Monday: to drop all favoritism so as not to add division to the uncertainty of their political family’s future. A coat of arms they maintained throughout their exchange, despite expressing differences in styles and ideas.
Differences in style on immigration
Three candidates sitting next to each other defended their candidacies through presentations. Bruno Retalleau, the leader of the right-wing senators, who won the favor of the lottery, initially presented his candidacy as a guarantee of unity and an “embodiment” for his political family. the right to accept one’s own convictions”.
His main opponent, the extreme right-hander Eric Ciotti, declared a favorite of the militants, defended himself. “It’s time to dare the truth” while the country on the way to decline. The youngest, Aurélien Pradié, closed the sequence by assuming to wear the break instead of emphasizing what sets him apart from his rivals and “a new hope for the right.
In a meticulous discursive choreography, the latter in turn answered the journalists’ questions about the war in Ukraine, the sovereign, economy and social, ecology and the future of LR. Although they agreed on the principle of robustness, they demonstrated the first stylistic differences from the immigration exchanges.
Aurélien Pradié confirmed that this is the case when asked about the reception of the humanitarian ship “Ocean Viking” by France. “Man’s extraordinary task is to save those who are in an accident.” Eric Ciotti strongly criticized the decision of Emmanuel Macron’s government in this case “cowardly and helpless” on the contrary “Mrs. Meloni”.
Bruno Retailleau, who also condemned the government’s migration policy, used this sequence to speak about the RN deputy Grégoire de Fournas, who was sanctioned for making racist remarks in the Semi-Cycle, in a masked jab at Mr. Ciotti, who condemned those remarks. of a far-right elected official. ” Me, I’ve never fallen for the moral lessons of the left (…), so when there was this Fournas thing in the National Assembly, I didn’t think it was racist to want to bring back illegal immigrants. home”, turned on.
On the subject of secularism, Eric Ciotti and Bruno Retailleau, in turn, tried to discredit Aurelien Pradié, who proposed compulsory uniforms not only at school but also at university.
Major disagreements over retirement and abortion
During the debates, the three contenders for the presidency of LR could not hide their fundamental disagreements on the pension issue. Mr. Retailleau defended the reform passed by the senatorial right in favor of delaying the retirement age to 64 and extending the contribution period. “Focusing on embodiment[r] celebrity right, Aurélien Pradié spoke for reform “based on annuities”. As for the deputy of the Alps and Seas, he is a “synthesis” between the two. But when the deputy from Louth said that pension reform would be a red line for him, MM Ciotti and Retailleau admitted that they could vote for him if he responded to the wishes of the right.
The Vendée senator, who is known only for his conservative positions on social issues, criticized an opinion on the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution. “Imported from the United States by the extreme left.” He was later challenged by opponents such as Eric Ciotti, who pleaded for the right to be a Republican. “Compatibility with Society” and did not return to the past.
Answering the question about the future of LR at the end of the program, the three candidates finally concluded that the political space between Macronia and the extreme right continues to exist for their parties. “I want this party to be more modern, more popular” Aurélien Pradié announced, while Mr. Retailleau assured that he must defend the right. a clear line on the sovereign and the economy”. Eric Ciotti has vowed to rebuild his political family, aiming for LR to win the 2027 presidential election thanks to the candidacy of Laurent Wauquiez.
Everyone also wanted to remember the supposed fault line during the Nicolas Sarkozy years. In the inquiry by Mr. Retailleau, he said that he was better placed than Mr. Ciotti and that the Alpes-Maritimes MEP’s ex-wife held many jobs was not brought up during the debate. The three candidates are now due to meet in front of the party’s national council on Saturday for a final big oral before the convention.