January 16, 2018
Towards a radicalisation of Les Républicains?
Alain Juppé quit his party Les Républicains, and its new leader Laurent Wauquiez did nothing to stop him. Like none other, Juppé represents the moderate, pro-European, wing of the party. But, for Wauquiez and his new team, he is part of the outgoing generation. His departure follows that of former minster Dominique Bussereau, who denounced the closeness of some of the party's new speakers to the Front National. The moderates' red lines have been crossed.
What about other moderates? Will they stay or will they go with Juppé? They are not in a comfortable position inside the conservative party. When it comes to centrist positions, everyone looks to Emmanuel Macron and LREM. And, internally, they are weakened too as Wauquiez' initiative to rebuild the party moves the goalposts clearly to the right. Wauquiez is keen to fill the vacuum left by the Marine Le Pen's weakness.
Is this the beginning of a divorce, wonders Cecile Cornudet? Not clear. Virginie Calmels, Juppé's deputy in Bordeaux and since December vice-president to Wauquiez, took distance and said that everyone is free to do what they want. The next moves by other moderates, like Valery Pécresse or Jean-Pierre Raffarin, will be closely watched.
What this means for Juppé himself is hard to tell yet. Only last November Juppé said he would be in favour of a grand centrist European movement, for the European elections in 2019. He himself denied that he would join LREM or any other centrist party, though. Could he play a role in the European elections next year as an independent?