A badly extinguished cigarette can start a devastating forest fire. The right avoided the fire this Thursday morning June 30, on the occasion of the election of the president of the finance committee. By not joining their votes with those of the National Rally to avoid the election of the rebellious Éric Coquerel, the eight elected Republicans have preserved their party from a dangerous controversy.

With 21 votes, the rebellious deputy from Seine-Saint-Denis won in the third round ahead of his opponent RN Jean-Philippe Tanguy (11 votes). The elected LRs remained faithful until the end to their candidate Véronique Louwagie (9 votes, including the 8 LRs). The left prevailed. The trap was avoided, even if the end of the ballot turned into an imbroglio.

Let’s resume. This strategic post of the Republic falls to a member of the opposition since the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy. The custom, respected this Thursday, prohibits the deputies of the majority from taking part in the vote. It is up to the opposition to manage in this internal election to the commission, where each group is represented in proportion to its weight in the hemicycle. Another tacit rule: the first opposition group wins.

But this election was not like the others. On the one hand, the possibility that the extreme right recovers for the first time this strategic position and uses it in its quest for respectability. On the other hand, the radicalism of Éric Coquerel (representative of Nupes), worries the Renaissance group and the Republicans. During the legislative campaign, the presidential majority raised the risk that LFI would use the post to reveal the tax situation of this or that person. The temptation won him to participate in the vote, a hypothesis extinguished by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.

This Thursday morning, the 73 members of the Finance Committee meet at the Assembly for the ballot. Everything is going as planned. The majority does not participate, each opposition group votes for its representative in the first two rounds. LR votes for Véronique Louwagie (8), La Nupes for Éric Coquerel (20) and the RN for Jean-Philippe Tanguy (11). Charles de Courson (Freedoms, independents, overseas and territories) obtains two votes: his own and that of his colleague Michel Castellani.

In the absence of an absolute majority, a final vote must be organised, this time by relative majority. LR then requests a suspension of the session. On the right, some hope to grab a few votes from the majority to win Véronique Louwagie. Charles de Courson says he is ready to bring his voice and that of Michel Castellani to the candidate LR, so rumors indicate a possible participation of certain deputies of the majority. Not all of them left the committee room.

But the majority bends to use. Other adjournments follow, requested by the RN or LR. The far-right party would like to embody a roadblock to Éric Coquerel, and is seeking a majority. One thing is quickly obvious: the right will never give him its votes. All hypotheses are swept away, such as an anti-LFI front with Charles de Courson as a ram – the addition of LR-RN votes is not enough to beat Nupes – or a rotating presidency. The National Rally accepts the principle, but demands that this agreement be public, and assumed by the right. Impossible, at LR, to publicly mix his voices with those of the far right. “We would have to have the political sense of an oyster. There, we would have been in full union of the rights”, loose an LR member of the finance committee. “What we hoped was that the deputies of the majority would vote,” admits another.

Charles de Courson finally withdraws his candidacy. Unsurprisingly, each camp supports its colt. Éric Coquerel wins with all the rebellious voices, plus one. At the end of the vote, the LFI deputy thus said he was satisfied with the absence of participation in the majority vote, a sign of respect for “democratic forms”. Everyone now plays their part and blames the others for the election of Éric Coquerel. For the RN, the Insoumis were guilty of “scheming” (by presenting a single candidate to the entire left), and the Republicans lacked courage. At LR, we point to the majority. His silence would be complicit. “The macronie chose Éric Coquerel as chairman of the finance committee”, criticizes Émilie Bonnivard. A role-playing game without surprise.

The right has in any case avoided a hell of a nervous breakdown. Joining his votes to those of the RN, even to elect a centrist, would have plunged him into crisis. The maneuver would have been perceived as an implicit alliance. However, she will have to deal with a rebel at the head of the powerful commission. The interested party swears that he will not lead any “witch hunt” there. A Renaissance deputy from the right even finds a beneficial effect in this election. “Coquerel will be a common enemy for LR and the majority. His election will exacerbate positions, it will show that LR and LREM defend the same vision of public accounts and finances.” An aborted alliance can hide another.