Mayor LR d’Antibes, former interim president of the Republicans, was commissioned by Christian Jacob, the party’s boss, and Gérard Larcher, the president of the Senate, to reflect on the conditions for organizing a tie-breaker system between the presidential candidates and then allow the rally.
The Republicans met in a strategic committee on Tuesday to discuss the primary and its terms. Where are you ?
We are advancing on the path of clarifying our organization. No one disputes that we need one candidate, and everyone who wants to run says so. It’s already a way of accepting competition. Then everyone needs the party. The Republicans have the means to finance a presidential campaign, they have militants, elected officials and intermediaries. The day the “machine” gets behind a candidate, it will bring him financial, militant and territorial strength. And that, everyone understood it. Then, we must define the terms of the tie-breaker between the candidacies of our political family. No one imagines that a small political office can nominate a candidate on its own. From the moment we have recognized that there is no natural leader, we must vote to decide between and bring together. Before the end of the year, the party will have chosen a name to embody the right and the center in the presidential election.
How would this vote be organized?
There will be a primary, whether it is open to activists and sympathizers or limited to activists only. We all agree that the 2016 primary which is in our statutes and which was completely open can no longer take place. Christian Jacob and Gérard Larcher therefore asked me to think about and organize a semi-open primary procedure. I do this while being well aware that opinions are not unanimous and that activists will have the last word on September 25.
I plead for a primary semi open to activists and sympathizers. It offers a stronger popular base. It creates a campaign dynamic around the candidate. It allows it to assert its programmatic orientations.
In case of primary, what will be the modalities? Will there be a ride? Two towers ? Will it pay off?
All the modalities are discussed, nothing is decided. We can consider a participation of around 2 euros for all voters.
All engaged citizens who vote will also have to agree to appear in a file that our candidate can rely on during the campaign. Regarding the second round, I remember that in 2016 Alain Juppé wondered a lot about whether or not to participate in a second round which would weaken the winner without reversing the results.
What will happen if the militants reject on September 25, during the congress, the idea of an open primary?
At that point, there would be only one solution: a closed primary organized among the members of the political parties of the right and the center, via a congress. In this case, my mission would be finished, the party will organize this vote. But this could, in my eyes, be perceived as a setback since we had validated the principle of a primary open on July 21, in political office.
Could the choice of candidate be made beyond the month of December?
Time is an important factor because we know that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are already in the countryside. So the sooner we finish this sequence of nominating a candidate, the better.
Everyone is beginning to understand it, especially since during this waiting period the poaching of elected LR officials begins again. Some mayors have already taken the plunge. Under the aegis of Édouard Philippe, we can clearly see that a desire is being organized to bring together elected representatives to support Emmanuel Macron. The longer we delay, the more some might be tempted to respond to the sirens of power.
How do you decide the question of Xavier Bertrand, who refuses any participation in the primary?
Either Xavier Bertrand is ready to participate in an open primary, and we are always ready to discuss the modalities with him; or he refuses, and the primary will take place without him. But in this case, the party will be behind the one designated by the procedure, whether it is a primary open to activists and sympathizers or a closed primary limited to activists only.
In the interest of all, it is important to continue the dialogue with Xavier Bertrand to convince him to participate in the common procedure. If he refuses, he will appear as a dissenting candidacy.
You meet Nicolas Sarkozy this Wednesday. Do you expect involvement from him?
No. I will see him out of respect. He is an important figure in our political family. He was President of the Republic and embodied a proactive policy of the right and the center. I imagine he will have rallying words.