Pecresse emerges as favorite to win French center-right presidential ticket

The 103rd Anniversary of the Armistice 11 November 1918 at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
PHOTO FILE: Paris? President of the Ile-de-France administrative region, Valerie Pecresse arrives to attend the ceremony within the framework of activities to mark the 103rd anniversary of the Armistice Day on 11 November 1918, the end of the First World War, at Khai The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, November 11, 2021. Ludovic Marin / Pool via Reuters

December 2, 2021

By Richard Lough

PARIS (Reuters) – Valerie Pecresse, a moderate conservative who served as a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, will be in a favorite pass to be chosen as Les Republicains’ centre-right candidate in the election. French presidential election in April.

Pecresse will face Eric Ciotti, a staunch right winger in the party ranks, in the match. The winner will top the party’s push to return to power for the first time in a decade.

The centre-right, with its roots in Charles de Gaulle, dominated French politics for much of the post-war period but has struggled to heal divisions and restore its identity since the centrist president. President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 election victory reshaped the political landscape.

In a surprise result in the first round, Ciotti finished first among the five challengers with 25.6% of the votes of the registered members. Pecresse, head of the governing body for the greater Paris region, takes 25%.

However, Pecresse emerged as the frontrunner in the race as three other candidates quickly threw their support behind her. Winner will be announced on Saturday afternoon.

Ciotti entered the race as an inexperienced runner, often seen as an outsider in the party because of his pointless talk about restoring state power and protecting identity. The people of France espoused far-right ideology.

“I want to make sure this campaign is based on the truth, the truth about the decline of this country,” Ciotti told reporters.

Pecresse is more moderate than Ciotti although she and her opponents for the ticket both go further on immigration rights and law and order as voter surveys show a far-reaching right in the general election. system against Macron.

Pecresse said she would halve the number of residence permits for non-EU migrants, strengthen judicial convictions in multi-ethnic areas where police have lost control, raise the retirement age to 65 and cut 200,000 jobs in the public sector.

The candidate’s final test will be to create a void in a crowded field on the right.

Macron’s centrist government has extracted moderate conservatives from the center-right, including his finance minister and former prime minister. It cuts taxes on businesses and the wealthy and infringes on rights in security and immigration matters.

Meanwhile, far-right leader Marine Le Pen has softened the anti-immigrant, monetarist sentiments of her National Rassemblement party to broaden the party’s appeal to traditional centre-right voters. system. Now she finds herself defeated by Eric Zemmour , whose lectures on Islam and migration have polarized the country.

Opinion polls ahead of Les Republicains’ first-round vote show Ciotti will perform the weakest of the five in April’s presidential election, with 6% of voters supporting nationally.

They predict Pecresse will win 10%, behind Macron and two far-right leaders, Le Pen and Zemmour.

Xavier Bertrand, whom voter surveys show would pose the greatest danger to Macron in a spillover vote, was fourth in the Les Republicains poll with 22.4% support.

Macron has not officially announced his candidacy although few analysts doubt he will win. Polls predict he will beat any opponent in the second round voting, but by a smaller margin than the one he gave Le Pen in 2017.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Tassilo Hummel, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich) Pecresse emerges as favorite to win French center-right presidential ticket


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