The drawing, published in 1898 by the Figaro, is a classic of caricature. First image: a bourgeois family is seated in a good mood. An excellent meal is on the way, but the father raises a careful finger: “Mostly, he said, let’s not talk about the Dreyfus affair! ” Second image, in the same room: between overturned chairs, the guests strangle themselves, bludgeon each other, surging each other with forks. “They talked about it”, notes the legend ofA family dinner, of Caran d’Ache.
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“Above all, let’s not talk about the presidential election” : since the start of the school year, this has been the order of the president of the Les Républicains (LR) party, Christian Jacob. But they talk about it, and the subject promises to be fraught with worry. The best candidate? How to designate it? If other parties have already decided one or the other of these questions, the direction of LR sends them away: at best, in mid-2021. To the chagrin of the supporters of a clarification, sorry to see their party inaudible for lack of leadership. The debate will rebound this Wednesday at a meeting of LR’s political bureau. This meeting will see the president of senators LR, Bruno Retailleau, urge his party to move forward, and submit to him the rules of a revised primary. The Vendéen, candidate for the nomination, is directly interested in the question. Among its tracks, the use of a ballot “preferential”, letting voters rank candidates rather than choosing just one, and moving to a single round of voting. So many responses to the 2016 primary, accused of having “Accentuated the divisions” between finalists. “In July, we validate the candidacies, in October we vote”, sums up a loved one.
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Not all close to Retailleau, others share his concern. Some fear too long a vagueness which, they fear, will not facilitate the return of former right-wing voters to macronism. The others suspect that everything, in the attitude of the direction, favors the candidacy of the president of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, an ex-member of LR whose party is tempted to make its “natural” candidate – even if it means exempt him from primary. These concerns seem to slide over the chiefdom of LR, party to organize a vote on the proposals of Retailleau, in order to put him in the minority and maintain his schedule. “I’m telling you today, I’ll tell you again in three months: for now, the presidential election is not a subject, explains LR Deputy Secretary General Fabien Di Filippo. It’s impossible to have an intelligent discussion in such a crisis. ” As for the secretary general of the party, Aurélien Pradié, he has already made known all the bad things he thought of the primary: “You can tinker with the mechanics, it will always carry the final failure, he posted on Twitter last week. False remedy for those who fantasize about a small closed victory and ensure a big open failure. “
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The man, on this subject, expresses the opinion of the entire LR chiefdom. The primary, “It’s still a system that consists of getting upset, explains a party official. In addition, the last time the candidates were [Nicolas] Sarkozy, [ François] Fillon and [Alain] Juppé. The casting, today, would have less allure. And I’m not talking about the number of voters ”, while the 2016 edition had attracted more than four million. Elected last year, the new president of LR, Christian Jacob, made his disappearance a campaign argument.
“Balance of power”
He put in all the more enthusiasm that seemed obvious then the candidacy of the mayor LR of Troyes, his friend François Baroin. Nothing is less certain today, his withdrawal being taken for granted since the start of the school year. He leaves in the running Retailleau and Bertrand, almost declared candidates, and the president of Ile-de-France, Valérie Pécresse, who is preparing for it without saying it. Do not decide anything for the moment, reason the party, it is to leave time to emerge to a champion “natural”, designated by polls or regional success. It would then suffice to note the character “obvious” of his candidacy and to skip the “primary” box.
Without it, it would also have the advantage of suffocating, almost certainly, a Retailleau candidacy. “Everything except him”, in substance entrust the leaders of LR, who see in the conservative and anti-statist line of Vendée the promise of a new rout. But this could be accepted, in the event of a vote, with the hard core of LR members.
The party had to admit it: lack of candidate “natural”, a “sharing” should be organized. The term, still vague, is preferred to that of “primary”. Even if, admittedly, it could hardly designate anything other than a form or another of popular vote. Another problem would then arise: Bertrand’s refusal to register in such a competition. The elected official, who left LR in 2017, does not want to leave the choice to his former party: a victory in Hauts-de-France would be enough, he says, to legitimize his candidacy. On Monday, he mocked Retailleau’s proposal, a “Gaz factory” to which he did not “not understood”. Bertrand “Will not go through a primary, confirms one of his relatives, the deputy Julien Dive. LR’s schedule does not commit him. Xavier has already said that he would open, if necessary, a balance of power with the other right-wing candidates ”. What feed the specter of multiple candidatures: scenario still uncertain, but certainly fatal for the right.