French Center-Right Needs More Than New Leader

France's Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018
France’s Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018 (EPP)

France’s center-right Republicans will be looking for a new leader after Laurent Wauquiez stepped down in the wake of a disappointing European election result.

His party got just 8.5 percent support, placing fourth behind President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens.

Wauquiez had been at 8 to 10 percent support in polls for the next presidential election, which is due in 2022.

But the party needs more than a fresh face. It needs a better strategy. Read more

France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election

The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007
The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007 (jrrosenberg)

France’s once-dominant center-left and center-right parties still haven’t recovered from their defeat two years ago at the hands of Emmanuel Macron.

The Socialists got only 6 percent support in European elections on Sunday, the same share as the far left. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans got 8.5 percent, down from 21 percent five years ago.

Most of the media attention has gone to the winners: Macron’s liberal-centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens, who got almost 60 percent support combined. But the collapse of the old parties — and with it an era in French politics — is just as big a story. Read more

France’s Traditional Parties Still Haven’t Recovered from Macron

The facade of the French National Assembly building in Paris, June 21, 2011
The facade of the French National Assembly building in Paris, June 21, 2011 (cactusbeetroot)

Two years into Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, France’s old political parties still haven’t recovered.

The Socialists, the party of Jacques Delors and François Mitterrand, are polling at a measly 6 percent for the European elections in May. The Republicans, who trace their political roots to Charles de Gaulle, are at 12 percent. Macron’s En Marche! (“Forward!”) and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally split 40 percent of the vote. The remainder goes to splinter parties on the left and right. Read more

Kurzism Doesn’t Travel Well

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018 (EPP)

The Financial Times wonders if Austria’s Sebastian Kurz is the savior of Europe’s center-right or an enabler of the far right.

His supporters, including the liberal-minded former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, see the Austrian as the antidote to Orbanism:

He talks about an open world, internationalism and is pro-European. But he is pragmatic about solving issues. And one of the big issues is immigration.

Critics argue that by taking a hard line on immigration, Kurz is legitimizing the far right. “You don’t fight fire with kerosene,” according to former chancellor and former Social Democratic Party leader Christian Kern. Read more

French Parties Must Figure Out How to Survive in the Era of Macron

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

Emmanuel Macron has redrawn the political map of France.

There used to be two major parties, one of the center-left (Socialists) and one of the center-right (Republicans), with smaller parties on the far left and far right. Macron’s centrist project, La République En Marche!, has thrown them all in disarray.

  • France Unbowed is a new far-left party cobbled together by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former communist. Although an improvement over the once hopelessly divided politics of the far left, it doesn’t get more than 20 percent support.
  • For the Socialists, there isn’t much room between France Unbowed on the left and Macron in the center. Their support is in the single digits.
  • The Republicans are similarly caught between Macron on the one hand and the National Front on the other, but at least they still have a substantial base of around 20 percent.
  • The National Front probably hit its ceiling in the 2017 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen got 34 percent support in the second voting round against Macron. Read more

French Republicans Lurch Right with Wauquiez

French Republican Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 14, 2017
French Republican Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 14, 2017 (EPP)

Republicans in France are likely to take a harder line against President Emmanuel Macron under the leadership of Laurent Wauquiez.

An education minister in the last conservative government, Wauquiez prevailed in an internal leadership ballot on Sunday with almost 75 percent of the votes.

He has ruled out alliances with both Macron’s centrists and the far-right National Front.

But he argues the party must take the fight to the latter by returning to what he sees as the “true values of the right”: order, respect and security. Read more

French Right Struggles to Unite Against Macron

French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9
French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9 (Facebook)

France’s two right-wing parties are struggling to remain united in the era of Emmanuel Macron.

  • Lawmakers friendly to the president have split from the center-right Republicans to form a new party, Agir (Act).
  • Prominent Republicans, like Bruno Le Maire and Édouard Philippe, have joined Macron’s government.
  • More centrists are expected to defect if the hardliner Laurent Wauquiez prevails in a party leadership vote next month.
  • The far right is also divided: Marine Le Pen’s former right-hand man, Florian Philippot, has created a new party to appeal to blue-collar workers in the rust belt of northern France while the rest of the National Front is focused on its heartland in the socially conservative southeast. Read more