No sooner had Germany recovered from its elections, when France's turn to intrigue has come. shaken by the results of the elections, when it was France's turn to intrigue. There is not so much time left before the presidential election in France. Conservatives have yet to choose a candidate from a pool of contenders who seek to outplay the ultra-right and bid a beautiful French goodbye to Emmanuel Macron.
Republicans are vying for the right to oppose centrist-oriented Emmanuel Macron, who also intends to run to be reelected. Republicans have decided how to choose their candidate: they are not going to do it through primaries, where rightist electors can vote. They now want to do it in Congress, where it is only party members who have the right to vote.
The candidate will have to breathe in new life into the party that considers itself the guardian angel of Charles de Gaulle's values, but still suffers from the shattered reputation of former Prime Minister François Fillon, who left amid a scandal over his wife's fictitious employment and was later convicted.
France's last right-wing president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who still enjoys great popularity among Republican members, was also tried for corruption. The party will also want to avoid the fate of its right-wing counterparts in Germany from the CDU, which received a negligible vote in the recent German elections.
"The right have an electorate, they control the majority of big cities, departments and regions of France, but the Republican party is incredibly weak now because of the Fillon story," political scientist Pascal Perrino told AFP. "The party's problem is not about the lack of the leader. None of them has proved to be worthy — that's the problem," he added.
Most analysts believe that the two-round electoral process will lead to another duel, as it happened in 2017, between Emmanuel Macron and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Yet, there are many uncertainties that will give the right-wing candidate an opportunity to survive the first round.
Congress will choose between candidates such as Michel Barnier, a former French foreign minister and EU commissioner, who was admired for his ability to negotiate Brexit, but surprised his supporters with a suggestion to impose a moratorium on immigration. Another leader and the only woman among the right-wing candidates is Valerie Pécresse, the head of the regional Ile-de-France Council. This woman is a talented executive, but she is little known internationally.
The big question for the right is whether former heavyweight minister Xavier Bertrand, who is polled to be the most promising conservative candidate with 14-15 percent of the vote, will make it to the home stretch.
Meanwhile, far-right French journalist Eric Zemmour has been gaining popularity, although he has not even confirmed his intention to run. A Paris Match cover photo of Zemmour, a married man, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea with a young woman, his assistant, only added media hype to his candidacy.
Zemmour is likely to create problems for Le Pen, potentially dividing the far-right votes and keeping her out of the runoff, possibly giving way to the Republican candidate.
Some Republicans even voiced the idea to invite Zemmour to join their ranks, but the sharp-tongued journalist who fiercely criticized Islam, has upped the stakes this week, having said that the party "betrayed General de Gaulle."
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