Regional 2021: with its minister-candidates, the Republic on the march to attack the right

In a local election that was not favorable to it, La République en Marche chose to nationalize the regional elections of June 20 and 27 by sending thirteen ministers to the front. Result: a strategy illegible at the local level but which aims above all to weaken the right.

Darmanin, Dupond-Moretti, Schiappa… To say that La République en Marche (LREM) has chosen to nationalize the regional elections on June 20 and 27 is an understatement. No less than thirteen ministers are candidates in an election which promises to be unfavorable for the presidential party, and four of them will be head of the list in the Hauts-de-France, Center-Val-de-Loire, New- Aquitaine and Grand Est.

Conceived as a machine to get Emmanuel Macron elected in 2017, little anchored locally and having few local elected officials and activists likely to bring an effective campaign to life, LREM seemed to have chosen to more or less ignore the regional ones.

Then the machine got carried away with the approach of the closing of the deposit of the lists, on May 17: Marc Fesneau (Minister Delegate for Relations with the Parliament and Citizen Participation) declared himself candidate head of the list in Center- Val-de-Loire, Geneviève Darrieussecq (Minister for Memory and Veterans Affairs) did the same in New Aquitaine, as did Brigitte Klinkert (Minister for Professional Integration) in the Grand Est.

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But above all, five ministers are candidates in Hauts-de-France – Laurent Pietraszewski (Secretary of State for Pensions and Occupational Health) as head of the list, accompanied by Gérald Darmanin (Minister of the Interior), Éric Dupond-Moretti (Minister of Justice), Agnès Pannier-Runacher (Minister for Industry) and Alain Griset (Minister for SMEs) – and five others in Île-de-France – Marlène Schiappa (Minister for Citizenship ), Gabriel Attal (government spokesperson), Amélie de Montchalin (Minister of Transformation and Public Service), Emmanuelle Wargon (Minister for Housing) and Nathalie Élimas (Secretary of State for Priority Education).

The number and weight of minister-candidates is impressive. However, it is not certain that the victories are necessarily there. “The strategy of sending ministers to coal ignores the springs of the vote in regional elections which is based on the triptych assessment, project, incarnation”, analyzes the deputy director general of Ifop, Frédéric Dabi, in the newspaper Opinion.

Alliance with LR in Paca, competing list in Hauts-de-France

Worse, if some ministers have indeed had an elected official experience in the region where they present themselves, such as Gérald Darmanin who was mayor of Tourcoing, deputy for the North and vice-president of the Hauts-de-France regional council alongside Xavier. Bertrand, many others arrive without the slightest electoral or even personal attachment. Agnès Pannier-Runacher is thus at the heart of a controversy concerning her domicile in Pas-de-Calais: the Secretary of State was born, raised and has always lived in Paris, but has been domiciled since May 9 in Lens at his companion and former chief of staff, Nicolas Bays, according to Politico.

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The failure announced by Frédéric Dabi to nationalize the ballot is confirmed in the polls. Lists of Laurent Pietraszewski (Hauts-de-France) and of Laurent Saint-Martin (Ile-de-France) thus fluctuate between 10% and 15% in voting intentions. Far, very far from a score giving hope for any victory.

But in reality, Emmanuel Macron sees further and LREM’s regional strategy aims above all to weaken the right. After having long groped about a possible candidacy of the Secretary of State for People with Disabilities, Sophie Cluzel, in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, the presidential party ended up opting for a lack of list in this region and support to the outgoing President Les Républicains, Renaud Muselier, officially to block the National Rally (RN). Even if the formal alliance between LR and LREM for a time announced by Jean Castex did not finally materialize, his announcement was however enough to divide the right in this region and create panic within the governing bodies of the Les Républicains party.

On the other hand, in Hauts-de-France, where the RN is also likely to win, La République en Marche prefers to send five members of the government who will compete with the list of the outgoing ex-LR president, Xavier Bertrand, for, again according to her, blocking the far right … by doing the opposite of what was decided in Paca.

Xavier Bertrand, already declared presidential candidate, who has always affirmed that he would not make an alliance with LREM, understood the ploy. “Emmanuel Macron knows that his most dangerous opponent is the Republican right. This is why he seeks to break it,” he declared on May 5 in Le Figaro.

Forcing the hand of Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse

But by sending government heavyweights to Hauts-de-France to try to qualify in the second round, the presidential party just wants to force Xavier Bertrand to sit at the negotiating table in the between-rounds.

“I’m not going to say that the Republican front is dead, but almost. (…) The responsibility of those who want to unite must allow and guarantee lists which have sometimes made 15, 17, 20% the presence of a few. elected. (…) We must have a reflection, at the time of the second round, to guarantee the postponement of votes and a political expression in these assemblies which allow oppositions other than the National Front to express themselves “, declared the Minister. political advisor to Emmanuel Macron and MEP Stéphane Séjourné on June 2 on France Inter.

In other words: if Xavier Bertrand wishes to avoid a quadrangular in the second round – against Sébastien Chenu (RN), Karima Delli (Union de la gauche) and Laurent Pietraszewski (LREM) -, which he accepts to include on his list of candidates The Republic on the march at the end of the first round.

>> To read also: “Safety, omnipresent theme of the regional campaign”

The same tactic is used in Île-de-France, where the outgoing president, the former LR Valérie Pécresse, also a possible presidential candidate of 2022, could also find himself in a quadrangular in the second round against Jordan Bardella ( RN), Laurent Saint-Martin (LREM) and the leftist candidate who won in the first round.

However, such a strategy can prove to be dangerous, in particular if the LREM list is maintained in the second round in Hauts-de-France if Xavier Bertrand’s door remained closed. While the presidential party continues to block the National Rally as a leitmotif, in this region it could end up making it win.

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