It was expected that France’s two former state-supportive parties would do poorly.
But in Sunday’s presidential election, the Socialists and conservative “Republicans” experienced a real disaster: their candidates Anne Hidalgo and Valerie Pecresse received only 1.75 and 4.8 percent of the vote. Humiliation and historical defeat for both.
Crashed like never before
The Socialists had already crashed into the ballot box five years ago. While François Hollande still received 28 percent of the vote in 2012, Benoit Hamon reached only 6.4 percent five years later.
Now the Republicans meet the same fate: Five years ago, their candidate, François Fillon, narrowly missed the second ballot by 20 percent. This time, her filter didn’t reach 5 percent.
This obstacle is not only symbolic, but also of very concrete importance: as a result, the parties will not be compensated by the state for the costs of their election campaign. Now the Republicans are facing financial problems.
The survival of the Republicans is at stake.
The total campaign debt of the party is seven million euros. Pecres himself says he personally owes up to five million euros.
At the headquarters of the “Republicans” party in Paris, she called Pecres for a donation and told the media: “I urgently need your help.” “Republican survival is at stake”.
The Green Party had previously called for donations. Its candidate, Yannick Gadot, also missed 5 percent barriers by obtaining 4.6 percent of the vote.
The question of the right to exist
After the historic defeat, the party must ask itself where it stands in terms of content and strategy. At the crisis meeting on Monday after the election, some members openly questioned their existence. “Immediate measures are needed. And in the medium term, we have to see if we can save the party — or not,” says Alan Goyandet, senator for “Republicans.” After the meeting it turned out: the party wants to keep fighting and is now hoping for parliamentary elections in June.
Immediate measures are needed.
The party is firmly entrenched in the regions, and this will play there, party leader Christian Jacob is convinced: “This is why our candidates will do well in the parliamentary elections.” The values of the republican right are still in demand in the French political scene.
Reluctance to criticize the elections
How does the party prepare itself for the second vote? According to the party’s majority, no votes should go in favor of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally. The party also distances itself from Macron’s “pessimism”, which has pushed people into the arms of extremists. Given the situation, he would personally vote for Macron anyway, says party chief Jacob.
Not all Republicans are likely to follow this partisan line. Others criticize that the party is not speaking more clearly in favor of voting for Macron.
On the other hand, former President Nicolas Sarkozy has now positioned himself clearly: he will vote for Macron, he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning.
The former conservative French president still has influence in the party behind the scenes. He had previously refused to support presidential candidate Valerie Pecres during the election campaign.
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