Michel Barnier is “the man we didn’t see coming“, as one of his relatives calls it. So much so that the person concerned did not enter until September 2021 in the dashboard of political figures of Ifop-Fiducial for Paris Match and Sud Radio.
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Yesterday far from the radar, but today able to create surprise by disturbing the expected duel between Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse to represent the right in the presidential election of 2022.
“His master asset vis-à-vis the militants is to have remained loyal to the party, including when things were going wrong.“, analyzes the deputy François Cornut-Gentille, one of the spokespersons of his campaign. If Éric Ciotti and Philippe Juvin are also members of LR, Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse have on the other hand resigned.
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“He is the only one who can bring everyone together, because he has no liabilities with others., further decrypts Brigitte Kuster, her leader among the deputies. Not being of the same generation can be a disadvantage, but also an advantage!“ At 70, Michel Barnier is a “baby boomer”, while his two main competitors, around 55, belong to the next generation.
“His career preserved him from partisan struggles“, adds François Cornut-Gentille. Twice European Commissioner then chief Brexit negotiator until March 2021, Michel Barnier has long been removed from national political life. Even if he tried to obtain the investiture of his political family in the 2015 regional in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. In vain: it was Laurent Wauquiez who picked it up.
The Laurent Wauquiez asset
Six years later, the latter, who has become the darling of the hard-core activists,implicitly supported him. “Laurent Wauquiez embodies another ideological profile than Michel Barnier, which proves that the latter is capable of bringing together different people around him.“, insists Xavier Breton, signatory of a first support list of 52 LR parliamentarians.
“The elected officials who support Michel Barnier do so by choice, not because they feel obligated to do so because of belonging to a territory, as is often the case for Valérie Pécresse and Xavier Bertrand, assures a supporter. A presidential ballot is intended to elect a figure of national and international stature, it is not a regional election! “
“Laurent Wauquiez’s support makes Michel Barnier audible to right-wing activists who could have considered him a Europeanist and centrist in the fashion of the 1990s“, emphasizes another. In fact, in 1992, Michel Barnier was one of the five RPR deputies (out of 99) to immediately support the Maastricht Treaty.
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By now offering a “Moratorium” on immigration, with a “constitutional shield“ against any primacy of European law over national law, the candidate clearly wished to stand out from this image. Even if it means disconcerting his friends within the European Union.