Make France “invincible”: Conservatives put up surprise candidate

Make France “invincible”
Conservatives put up surprise candidate

For the first time, France’s Republicans are nominating a woman for the presidential election. The nomination of Valérie Pécresse is a surprise. But the experienced politician is trusted to challenge the favorites Macron and Le Pen.

In France, the conservative republicans are sending ex-minister Valérie Pécresse a woman for the first time in the presidential election. In the second round of the membership decision on Saturday, Pécresse prevailed with 61 percent of the vote against the southern French MP Éric Ciotti, who received 39 percent of the vote. “The republican right is back,” said Pécresse after her election. “We will give our country back its unity, dignity and pride.”

The right-wing camp last provided the president from 2007 to 2012: Nicolas Sarkozy. According to previous polls, it is by no means certain that the Republicans will make it to the second ballot in the April 2022 election. The current favorite is the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, who is very likely to run again. Right-wing populist Marine Le Pen is currently in second place in the polls. However, Pécresse is believed to be able to challenge Macron with her ambition and tenacity.

The election of Pécresse as a candidate came as a surprise. Among the five applicants in the first round, the former Brexit chief negotiator of the EU, Michel Barnier, and Xavier Bertrand, ex-minister and president of the Hauts-de-France regional council, had expected opportunities. After their departure, both called for Pécresse’s support. Around 140,000 party members were called to make the decision. Ciotti was even slightly ahead of Pécresse in the first round of candidates. While Ciotti is assigned to the right wing of the party, Pécresse presented himself as more moderate.

Nevertheless, for Pécresse, too, in the coming months it will be a matter of winning over voters from the right-wing camp, strengthening internal security and limiting migration are also among her issues. The nation must be strengthened and France made “invincible”, she said after her election as candidate.

In addition to the right-wing populist Le Pen, the extreme right-wing publicist Éric Zemmour is also running for president, who at times even ranked second ahead of Le Pen in surveys. In a video message a few days ago, Zemmour saw France as threatened with extinction and population exchange. Up to 20,000 supporters were expected near Paris on Sunday for his first major election campaign appearance. “We have no need for scare-mongers,” said Pécresse to the extremist, who has received much public and media attention.

Zemmour called on the right-wing supporters of the defeated Ciotti on Saturday to support his candidacy. Pécresse was most recently budget minister from 2011 to 2012 and previously university and research minister from 2007 to 2011. She began her political career in 1998 as an advisor to the then President Jacques Chirac. Pécresse is currently President of the Regional Council of the capital region Île-de-France.

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