February 21, 2018
Whom do Wauquiez' indiscretions serve?
The satirical magazine Quotidien published the complete recording of Laurent Wauquiez' talk at the business school in Lyon, a treasure trove of indiscretions. It was an off-the-record talk, but one of the students taped it. These leaks happen all the time, so that is not the interesting bit. How it plays out in politics is.
Wauquiez used this occasion to define himself as the antithesis to Macron. He defended his straight talk, anchored in the real world, as opposed to Macron's discourse wrapped in silver paper. Cécile Cornudet reminds us that the French tend to vote for a president in opposition to the previous one: the hyperactive Nicolas Sarkozy followed the immobile Jacques Chirac, and was succeeded by the more normal Francois Hollande. Wauquiez' calculation is to create an anti-Macron profile to prepare for the elections in four years' time. This strategy is not to be dismissed.
Also those politicians who now hit out against Wauquiez - Macron's ministers who called for an apology or for his resignation - only make him bigger. Xavier Bertrand called him worse than Donald Trump. The idea of a sanitised world with hypocritical standards is rejected by a large part of the population. Critics shot themselves in the foot, and in the end serve Wauquiez, concludes Ivan Riofol in his blog for Le Figaro.
We also noted with interest that Marion Maréchal Le Pen is speaking at a high-profile conference of US conservatives and Republicans near Washington this week. It is her first political appearance after she withdrew from politics last year. Many saw her withdrawal as a strategic move to distance herself from the defeat of Marine Le Pen. More conservative and more pro-market than her aunt, young and knowledgeable, she was the rising star in the far-right Front National party and the youngest MP ever elected to the assembly (at the age of 22). For many she still has that potential to return and challenge her aunt, who is struggling since her defeat last year. According to the Guardian she used her year out of politics to learn English. Will we see her more back home in France?