Alexandre Chauveau, edited by Antoine Terrel 11:44 am, September 17, 2021

If he has given up standing for the presidential election, Laurent Wauquiez occupies a central role in the battle on the right.

All the candidates are indeed seeking to be seen with the former boss of LR, who has not yet taken a position.

But in private, he is full of praise for Michel Barnier. 

His decision had surprised. But if he has given up standing for a possible right-wing primary, Laurent Wauquiez intends to weigh heavily in the campaign. The attitude of the boss of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, former boss of LR, is thus closely watched by all the candidates, his voice still counting a lot. And this Friday, in Lyon, he receives the president of the Ile-de-France Region Valérie Pécresse, for an officially courtesy visit. And further meetings with the other candidates are expected to follow. 

By giving up attending the primary, Laurent Wauquiez has taken on the role of the wise man who observes the competition on the right with haughtiness.

So much so that today, everyone is looking to be seen with him, trying at least not to make him an enemy, and at best to benefit from his support.

The former party boss therefore continues the talks: he received Michel Barnier last week, must see Valérie Pécresse this Friday, and will receive Eric Ciotti and Philippe Juvin in the coming days.

Complicated relations with Bertrand, praise for Barnier

Officially, Laurent Wauquiez does not support any candidate. But in private, he is full of praise for Michel Barnier, to whom he recognizes a certain stature, all against a background of regional friendship. Relations the exact opposite of those he maintains with Xavier Bertrand, who criticized him in 2017 for wanting to "trumpize French political life". The deputy Julien Dive, close to the northern candidate, who is working on a rapprochement between the two men, confesses: "We are starting from afar". A meeting should also take place in the coming weeks, ultimate proof if necessary, that the political weight of Laurent Wauquiez on the right is indeed intact.