The Decline of Empire Republicans

It’s a great election night classic. On TV and radio, representatives of political parties flaunt language to criticize their opponents and highlight their achievements, even if they are mediocre. On the evening of June 12, LR speakers respected tradition by claiming that with just over 11% of the vote, the party more than doubled its first-round presidential election result, a testament to its local roots. Perhaps. But some numbers send shivers down the spine and confirm declining party status.

Seat erosion

The results of parliamentary elections over twenty years prove that the heirs of Gaullism are no longer conquerors. The years pass and the seats in the Palais-Bourbon are reduced: 398 deputies in 2002, 345 in 2017, 196 in 2012, 100 in 2017. The forecasts for the new legislature give LR between 50 and 80 seats. On the evening of June 12, the party led by Christian Jacob led only 42 constituencies and 71 in the runoff election.

The right had 398 deputies in 2002, 345 in 2017, 196 in 2012, 100 in 2017. And according to forecasts between 50 and 80 in the next legislature

Loss of strongholds and big names

Even more worryingly, LR is in trouble in certain areas that previously seemed impregnable strongholds. In the former stronghold of Nicolas Sarkozy, the sixth constituency of Hauts-de-Seine, the Republicans will not appear in the second round that will oppose the rally of the macrony Constance Le Grip to Nupes. In the west of Paris, Francis Szpiner and Brigitte Kuster leave on unfavorable exemptions against hikers Benjamin Haddad and Astrid Panosyan-Bouvet. On June 19, for the first time in its history, the right was unable to have delegates in the capital. In the fifth of the Vaucluse, Julien Aubert, figure of the right wing of the party, is eliminated in the first lap and ends up in fourth place. In Yonne’s first, Guillaume Larrivé who is deemed Macron compatible does not make it to the second round.

Thanks to the old and young shoots

In spite of everything, some very established deputies in mostly rural constituencies manage to hold their own and keep the LREM and RN out in front in the first round. Thus, in the Haute-Loire department, the domain of Laurent Wauquiez, the outgoing Isabelle Valentin and Jean-Pierre Vigier stand at 45.7%. In the Doubs, Annie Genevard is on track to be reelected (42% in the first round). Marc Le Fur, irreplaceable boss of the Breton right and deputy since 2002, is in a strong position to keep his seat (40.7%).

Other young deputies are doing well while Macronie wanted to ‘kill’ them. In particular, let’s mention Fabien Di Filippo, “best” candidate for LR with 46% in Moselle or even the deputy leader of the party Aurélien Pradié in Lot (45%). Julien Dive, in Aisne, Virginie Duby-Muller in Haute-Savoie are favourites, as are the thirty-somethings Raphaël Schellenberger in Haut-Rhin or Pierre-Henri Dumont in the north. Their job in the Assembly will be to prevent the marginalization of their party.

If Emmanuel Macron gains a relative majority, LR will be able to increase its influence

Extra party?

For LR, things are clear: if Together wins an absolute majority, the movement risks progressive marginalization and will struggle to be influential in the conference room. However, the party represented by Valérie Pécresse in the last presidential election could paradoxically play a pivotal role, despite a number of deputies that has never been so low. If the macronist majority is relative, the president of the republic needs an “auxiliary force” to make and repeal laws. Only the Republicans will be able to fulfill this mission. And they should charge full price. In short, everything indicates that LR will play the role of “small but influential” party that it is not used to. A culture change as he will no longer play in the big league. But he no longer has a choice.

Lucas Jakubowicz

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