Presidential in France: who of the five candidates to represent the right?

(From left to right) Xavier Bertrand, Philippe Juvin, Valérie Pecresse, Michel Barnier and Éric Ciotti of the Republicans party before the debate between the LR presidential candidates, in Paris, November 30, 2021. © JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Text by: Lucile Gimberg Follow

6 mins

The hour of truth is approaching for the right.

Nearly 140,000 activists of the Republicans (LR) party are called upon to choose, from this Wednesday, December 1 and by electronic vote, their candidate for the 2022 presidential election. Portraits of the five candidates in the running.

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After a marathon campaign in LR federations across France, the game remains open between the five candidates: Michel Barnier, Xavier Bertrand, Éric Ciotti, Philippe Juvin and Valérie Pécresse.

Who will win? 

Michel barnier

The French need a reassuring president, a respectful president

 ," said

Michel Barnier

, 70, who is betting on his loyalty to the party and on his international stature to win this internal primary on the right. Former European commissioner and Brexit negotiator, this “ 

mountain dweller 

”, as he likes to present himself, has a long CV as the arm that convinces many activists: deputy at 27, senator, president of the General Council of Savoy, several times minister under François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, MEP.

To the point of making it the favorite?

Affirmative, many answered at the start of the campaign.

But his years spent in Brussels have kept him away from the French, he suffers from a lack of notoriety.

Its " 

moratorium 

" on immigration, attacked by its rivals on the right for its lack of clarity and criticized in Europe, has become a drag over the weeks.

Above all, he struggled during the televised debates organized for the nomination contest Les Républicains.

Too withdrawn

 ", judged several LR militants crossed in Essonne.

Xavier Bertrand

He is best placed in the polls for the presidential election. Even if he remains behind Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and the now official candidate

Éric Zemmour

, opinion polls give Xavier Bertrand 13% of voting intentions, against 10% for Michel Barnier or Valérie Pécresse, 6% for Éric Ciotti and 3% for Philippe Juvin (according to the latest Ifop poll). So he assures him everywhere in the face of LR activists: “

 I am the only one able to beat Emmanuel Macron. 

"

With his program in three axes "Authority-Work-Republic of the Territories",

Xavier Bertrand

wants to address the working classes and relies for this on his experience at the head of the Hauts-de-France region in the north of the country. .

This 56-year-old former insurer has also been mayor, deputy, several times ministers under Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as secretary general of the UMP (the former name of LR).

His hope?

That many of the new members who have appeared in favor of this primary - 60,000 have taken or taken back their cards since the start of the school year - support him.

Because he knows it: to win, he will have to have won back some of the activists who accuse him of having left LR in 2017.

Valerie Pécresse

"

 I am a lady to do, 

" insists

Valérie Pécresse

, 54, drawing on her experience at the head of Île-de-France to convince LR activists. Faced with an Emmanuel Macron whom she describes as "

 clientelist president, chameleon president

 ", this hard-working enarque, former State Councilor, promises to "

 restore order in the accounts and in the street 

" and defends a hard line in immigration and security. As proof of her grip, she recalls that she " 

held firm against the demonstrators 

When she was Minister of Higher Education under Nicolas Sarkozy.

Too much Ile-de-France?

This is undoubtedly a weak point for the former Minister of the Budget and Member of Parliament for Yvelines in the Paris region.

But the Île-de-France federations will weigh in the tie-breaker vote.

On the ground, activists salute his skills and pugnacity during televised debates.

They make him pay less for having left the party in 2019 than to his rival Xavier Bertrand.

But Valérie Pécresse could get stuck between the darling of activists Michel Barnier and the favorite of the polls Xavier Bertrand.

So she pushed the machine to new memberships to the full and obtained the support of several sarkozysts like Brice Hortefeux.

Not to mention the woman asset she plays by quoting Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel.

Eric Ciotti

It is the surprise of this internal campaign of the right.

At 56, this deputy from the Alpes-Maritimes (south-eastern France) and quaestor of the National Assembly is one of the supporters of the most right-wing line of the Les Républicains party.

For example, he calls for a "French 

Guantanamo 

" and wants to put an end to the right to the soil.

"

 Security, immigration, terrorism, I wear a line very in tune with the activists

,"

he told RFI

in Lisieux at the beginning of November.

Asked about his differences with Marine Le Pen or Eric Zemmour, he refused that certain values ​​were "

 the monopoly of the extreme right

 ", and added: " 

We at LR have the capacity to govern.

 "

At the head of the second most populous LR federation after that of Paris,

Eric Ciotti

could well " 

make a score

 ", it is said in the camps of his rivals.

Especially since it was effective and stood out during the televised debates against the three favorites Michel Barnier, Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse, ideologically very close to each other.

The Fillon of 2022?

“ 

I don't believe it, 

tackles an LR executive.

LR activists are less radical than journalists say.

There are a lot of new members and everyone has understood that we are not there to elect a clan chief. 

In any case, if the right chose Eric Ciotti, it would leave a boulevard to Emmanuel Macron.

Philippe Juvin

Mayor of a Parisian suburban town,

Philippe Juvin

, 57, was unknown to the French until they discovered him on television during the health crisis under his hat as emergency manager of a Paris hospital. A former MEP, he has never been a minister and has made it his trademark. "

 The advantage with me is that I do not explain to you that I am going to do what I did not do when I was a minister, 

" he quipped this Monday evening, November 29, in front of the activists in Paris.

Striking in public meetings or during televised debates, the smiling Philippe Juvin gradually gained his place in the nomination race.

As firm as the others in matters of immigration or security, this president of the LR federation of Hauts-de-Seine distinguished himself from his rivals by talking about the health system and by refusing to cut civil servant positions.

“ 

He opened the debates, 

” greeted an LR activist this week.

The emergency doctor should get a modest score in the first round but given the uncertainties surrounding the ballot, his rally could be worth it.

In any case, he was able to do well and will have gained notoriety.

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