The former minister and mayor of Antibes is tasked by LR to develop a procedure for the designation of their champion acceptable to all aspiring candidates who claim to belong to this family of thought. He pleads for the same tie-breaking method as five years ago.
The primary has a bad reputation among activists and sympathizers of the right and the center. What do we blame him for? To go against the spirit of the Fifth Republic, to create divisions and irreversible fractures, to appoint a candidate in part thanks to votes from citizens who do not share the same values, thus distorting the final result.
Today, while it is registered in the statutes of the Republicans, the primary is however envisaged only failing to find, if not a “natural candidate”, at least a consensual personality behind which all would agree to gather. This hypothesis is not the most probable, by what to replace it?
To paraphrase Churchill speaking about democracy, the primary would be the worst system to the exclusion of all the others and, as if to complete the discrediting of the procedure, the Larousse dictionary gives as a definition of the word, “simplistic” or “bounded”. This pejorative view of the primary deserves, however, to be corrected and put into perspective in the event that it proves necessary.
The Gaullist formula ” a man facing a people Is often mentioned by opponents of this method of nominating candidates. However, it was Charles Pasqua who was the first to declare in 1989: ” We need to find a system that allows voters to choose for themselves the candidate they want “, Positioning itself at odds with the traditional practice of nominating candidates by political parties. The former Minister of the Interior already feared divisions within his movement, which could jeopardize the result of the major election of the Fifth Republic.
Since that time, the French political landscape has changed profoundly. The time when the political choice for the presidential election was limited to people embodying the two major political currents of the right and the left is over.
Today, taking into account the existence of several rights and several left not reconcilable, a candidate is almost assured of his qualification in the second round if he exceeds the score of 20% of the votes in the first round. He cannot therefore take the risk of having a competitor in his political family who would prevent him from achieving this objective. The time when the first round of the presidential election could decide between our candidates is over.
Any division or dispersion of votes is thus suicidal for the current of thought that we embody: one or only one candidate is essential to bring us to the second round! This analysis is indisputable and consensual.
The primary, of which the right and the center only have experience in 2017, is also considered by some as a losing machine. The fact that the two candidates in the second round of the last presidential election did not comply with this mode of selection would be proof of this.
It is however clearly established today that the failure of François Fillon is not due to the primary, which he had largely won, but to the “affairs” which severely handicapped his campaign as soon as he was appointed. As for the divisions possibly created by the primary with a view to 2017, it is obvious that they pre-existed the candidate nomination procedure and would have been expressed even more violently in the event of multiple candidatures for the presidential election.
Finally, some accuse the open primary of being “distorted” by strategic votes of citizens opposed to the candidates of the right and the center and intended to select the candidate least dangerous for their convictions. In view of the studies carried out, showing that less than 10% of the voters in the primaries did not share the values of the candidates, this phenomenon did not have an impact on the final result.
The primary therefore does not have all the faults that are attributed to it. On the other hand, this separation for the assembly and by the vote presents advantages which are often underestimated.
The first argument in its favor is obviously respect for democracy. At a time when the democratic deficit and the loss of political credibility lead to record abstentionism, how, on a subject as important as the presidential election, could we do without a popular consultation? What would be the alternative solutions? The polls which only reflect the opinion of the moment have often, and even recently, during the regional elections, shown their limits. Nomination by a small group or by a party would not avoid multiple and dissident candidacies inside or outside traditional political formations and would be difficult to accept by the population.
Let us learn the lessons of the primary in view of 2017 to correct its imperfections and improve the effectiveness of this method of designation. Rather than a competition leading after confrontations to what a candidate wins “against the others”, should we not imagine a competition-cooperation where he or she wins “with the others” and that thus constitutes a team capable of to lead France? Moreover, is it not appropriate to use this democratic moment as a media time for debate and exhibition of our ideas?
Why, finally, not allow committed citizens, sharing the same values, not only to nominate their candidate, but also to participate in the development of this project in a popular spirit carrying hope?
The primary can, if we all have the will, bring out a personality, a team and a project of alliance of the right and the center for the alternation and put an end to ten years of opposition for our current of thought.