“Local anchoring is not enough in legislation. A national dimension is needed.” This former minister of the Republicans (LR) observes with lucidity the limits of the campaign led by his party. Rolled during the presidential election, the right is keeping a low profile in view of the ballot on June 12 and 19. The candidates have put the LR logo in the closet and are banking on their field work to win a mandate from the National Assembly. Overall objective: to save 70 to 85 seats out of the 104 that LR held in the previous legislature.
In 2017, François Baroin led the battle after the failure of François Fillon, extolling the merits of a softened legislative program. No national figure carries the voice of LR this time, despite the activism of Xavier Bertrand and Laurent Wauquiez on the ground. The right has chosen underground warfare. This tone goes against the national campaign led by the majority or the Nupes, which promises to install Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Matignon.
Too ? A few days before the verdict, the right is raising its voice nationally. Christian Jacob castigated Tuesday during a press briefing “a totally absent government” and its “inability to carry out any reform”, and warned against the risk of “a five-year term for nothing”. As for Nupes, the left-wing alliance for the legislative elections, he vilified “people who block everything” and “a scam by Mr. Mélenchon”.
At the end of the campaign, the right cannot escape from the national environment. “As long as the Borne government was not named, nothing was happening in the media. But it’s time to talk, especially since the interest of the French has materialized in the last seven days”, notes an LR pillar . Thus, Xavier Bertrand multiplies the media interventions to praise the merits of his camp.
This national context is a double-edged sword for LR. The difficult beginnings of the new executive – Abad affair, discretion of Emmanuel Macron – feed his hopes. The incidents at the Stade de France allow him to instruct a lax trial against the government. The regal, always a safe bet. Candidate in the Alpes-Maritimes, the deputy Éric Pauget continues to be challenged on the chaotic final of the Champions League. “This subject speaks to the right, he confides. This reinforces the idea of a weakness of power on these security issues.”
The breakthrough of the left, on the other hand, is fueling concerns. During a strategic council, the mayor of La Garenne-Colombes Philippe Juvin warned Tuesday against a “useful vote” in favor of the presidential majority to block Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The executive has indeed embarked on an operation to demolish the Nupes by means of arguments that sound sweet to the right-wing electorate. Emmanuel Macron denounces a program that quotes “20 times the word taxation and 30 times the word prohibition”. “With Mélenchon, it’s the fiscal guillotine,” Budget Minister Gabriel Attal told Le Monde. “Economic and social danger”, asserts the Minister Delegate in charge of Relations with Parliament Olivier Véran. The words of Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the police, the source of a skirmish with Elisabeth Borne, reinforce this bipolarization.
On the right, some fear that the LR bulletin will be sacrificed in the name of a fight against the “red peril”. A federation president sees it on the ground. “People tell me: ‘I’m going to vote Together’, it would be too serious for Mélenchon to become Prime Minister.” And what does it matter if no poll today offers the parliamentary majority to the left. “Mélenchon at Matignon is a horror film for our voters, confirms an LR executive. And the temptation to vote useful to fight against the far left is stronger than against the RN.”
Like deja vu. In 2019, the yellow vests crisis and the threat of the RN had cost the list carried by François-Xavier Bellamy dearly. Valérie Pécresse collapsed just before the first round of the presidential election, victim of a useful vote aimed at avoiding a Mélenchon-Le Pen duel. Beware of a new cursed scenario, while some opinion polls only grant a relative majority to the Head of State. “Macron used Le Pen as a useful idiot, and now it’s Mélenchon”, mocks an LR leader. “Macron’s worries are almost a disservice to us, adds a parliamentarian. The fear of a success for the left can push the right-wing voter to play it safe.”
The legislative voting system makes this “useful vote” dangerous. To be qualified in the second round, you must be among the first two or obtain 12.5% of the votes of those registered. No triangular could take place, given the strong abstention anticipated by the polls. The right must resist the Macronist temptation from Sunday. “We will win the vast majority of duels in the second round, even against LREM”, wants to believe an LR pillar.
Not easy. The left carries a project of rupture in the ballot, and the executive asks the French to grant the president a parliamentary majority. Between this political project and this institutional logic, the right struggles to pose as an arbiter. She calls on her voters not to give full powers to Emmanuel Macron and is counting on her weight in the Assembly to rebuild herself. Arguments common to all opposition formations. Offer a singularity to the LR vote, eternal problem of the heir to the UMP.