Presidential 2022: how Nicolas Sarkozy’s silence weighs on Valérie Pécresse’s campaign

It’s a little music that now agitates the French right every week: Nicolas Sarkozy would consider supporting Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the presidential election. After The Sunday newspaper at the beginning of the month, it is Nice morning who affirmed on March 15 that the former head of state could announce his support for the outgoing president in the coming days”. But as always, Nicolas Sarkozy preferred to remain silent and continues to maintain an increasingly heavy suspense for his political family.

The day after her victory at the congress of the right-wing party last December, Valérie Pécresse probably did not imagine that Nicolas Sarkozy would play this score. But by finally asking to exchange with him two months later, the Republican candidate quickly realized that she could not count on him. “We had a frank and affectionate conversation. (…) It was very useful for me to have the advice of a former President of the Republic”she had dropped in the wake of the interview, without conviction.

Since then, relations between the former president and his former Minister of Higher Education have largely deteriorated. So much so that they hardly exchange any more or else through intermediaries. During a recent strategic committee, a federation president asked Valérie Pécresse if she could count on the support of Nicolas Sarkozy. “You just have to text him to find out!”, The candidate would then have replied to him, a bit annoyed, according to the comments reported by a party executive to franceinfo. A tenor from the Republicans confirms the weariness of the candidate.

“Valérie is outraged by his behavior. How can you not be at the same time? She is having it very badly and I can tell you that we are too.”

A tenor of the Republicans

at franceinfo

The reasons for Nicolas Sarkozy’s silence with regard to Valérie Pécresse are multiple. Many Republican executives are convinced that the former head of state wants above all to stay in the background so as not to find himself involved in the candidate’s half-hearted campaign. “He is convinced that she will not be the next President of the Republic, so he is careful not to comment”, assures an LR parliamentarian, also aware that his candidate has “difficult to print in public opinion”since his failed meeting at the Zénith in Paris in February.

Another explanation: the former president would still not have digested the support given by Valérie Pécresse to François Fillon during the right-wing primary won by the former Prime Minister in 2017. Resentful, the ex-president would therefore like “to make Valérie Pécresse pay for her lack of loyalty to the one to whom she owes her entire political career, like Xavier Bertrand and most of the LR leaders who have all been his ministers”said this close to the candidate.

“It’s difficult to estimate those you have made minister. Did François Mitterrand esteem Lionel Jospin? I don’t believe him! Did Jacques Chirac esteem Nicolas Sarkozy? I don’t believe him either!”

An LR deputy and support for Valérie Pécresse

at franceinfo

Valérie Pécresse’s constant references to Jacques Chirac and the results of his two terms as president would also annoy Nicolas Sarkozy. “The only wink she gave to the one to whom she owes everything was when she said she was going to bring out the Kärcher. Frankly, it was catastrophic”recalls an elected LR, also very critical of the campaign of his candidate.

But what bothers Valérie Pécresse and her entourage above all is not “desires for revenge” of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to a tenor of the Republicans, but the fact that the latter does not deny the rumors about his possible support for Emmanuel Macron. For those close to the candidate, these leaks are orchestrated by several former LR elected officials from the south of France who have now converted to Macronism. In their sights: Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, and Renaud Muselier, the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

Charges that the interested parties reject as a whole. “We also hear this little music from the article by Nice morning. But I can confirm to you that Christian Estrosi is an independent elected official who did not intervene in this affair.says someone close to the mayor of Nice, who denies the existence of an alleged “Southern League” composed of elected officials from the Côte d’Azur commissioned by Emmanuel Macron to siphon off the LR electorate locally.

“I have nothing to do with this story of rallying. Besides, I am a very close friend of Nicolas Sarkozy and I will never speak on his behalf.”

Renaud Muselier, president of the Paca region

at franceinfo

If some LR elected officials like Guillaume Larrivé anticipate a possible rallying and even say they are ready to “build a new majority” with the outgoing president in the event of defeat of Valérie Pécresse, among the macronists, we are already sabering the champagne. “We worked a lot so that Nicolas Sarkozy says nothing and the fact that he says nothing is already a victory for us. And then you know, the president has a very direct relationship with Nicolas Sarkozy”says a ministerial adviser to franceinfo.

At the political office of the Republicans, if the hope of avoiding the worst still exists, they prefer to blame the role of the media in this affair. “Only journalists who have no political culture think that”plague Brice Hortefeux, Nicolas Sarkozy’s former interior minister.

“Nicolas Sarkozy will not support Emmanuel Macron before the first round. He will not, his candidate is Valérie Pécresse!”

Brice Hortefeux, former Minister of the Interior

at franceinfo

But we are also worried about the future of the party. “In fact, we prefer Nicolas not to say anything, because if he were to support Emmanuel Macron, it would be a blow that would hurt Valérie Pécresse very much, but also and above all our political family, which really has no need this right now”concludes a parliamentarian LR.

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