The Weekly Dispatch - "Small" victories
18/12/2022 - The 2023 Finance Bill has been definitively adopted, Future Les Républicains 2027 candidate Laurent Wauquiez is making Christian moves, while Renaissance & Horizons go fishing for members
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💸The 2023 Finance Bill has been adopted
If you’ve been following The French Dispatch, or French politics more generally, you’ll have been aware that there has been a nail-biting fight to pass the 2023 finance bill before the deadline of the Christmas break.
In a gruelling process where there was clear and evident polarisation after a brutal election season, Renaissance needed to rely on executive power to pass most of the budget, using article 49.3 of the French constitution to adopt things without a vote despite attempts at compromise.
This led to an aggressive response, with the NUPES coalition deploying 12 motions of censure to bring down the government, which Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne noted was more than “under Michel Rocard, Edith Cresson and Pierre Bérégovoy combined”.
The right and the far right, despite early support from Marine Le Pen for some censure motions, were happy to sit back and watch the carnage unfold to their benefit, and until very recently, the right was attempting to keep its distance in order to see how it’s leadership election would develop, and to see what options were open for it to continue to exercise some influence over events.
However, expect a more robust breakdown of the events in an upcoming dispatch, including the fact that Les Républicains and the NUPES have now called on the Constitutional Council to continue their fight.
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📖Laurent Wauquiez is making (Christian) moves
With Eric Ciotti’s recent victory to become President of Les Républicains (LR), and his explicit support for Laurent Wauquiez‘ already declared 2027 Presidential ambitions, the future candidate is already making some big moves to build up his position.
However, there are questions about whether changing street names is the way to do it.
The big argument that Wauquiez has decided to trigger is the renaming of the official address of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional council, changing it from L’esplanade Mitterrand, named after a former socialist President of the Republic, to Cours Charlemagne.
With his entourage claiming that “It is a question of making the region more accessible and more visible to users”, many have argued that this is not a real argument, one that your friendly dispatch is inclined to agree with.
The vice president of the socialist group in the region, Johann Cesa, had this to say:
“Such a decision results exclusively from your desire to try to erase from the collective memory a former President of the Republic, whose action and image as a statesman continue to disturb the most conservative among you”
Arguably, there is something interesting at play here, where the right across Europe has continued to dip itself further and further into the need to ‘re-Christianise Europe and move away from a less conservative, progressive, and in some views, more hedonistic and decadent society.
This is why it’s not far-fetched to argue that Wauquiez, currently the presumptive nominee for the increasingly hard-/far-right Les Républicains, would start to focus on building the argument that he is favouring and defending France’s Christian heritage, and is fighting against the decadence of modern France, which he will undoubtedly blame on Emmanuel Macron.
Which may be easier said than done, because…
🎣Renaissance & Horizons go fishing within LR
With the election of Eric Ciotti as president of LR, the Presidential Majority saw an opportunity to strengthen their own position and take advantage of the unhappiness amongst elected and unelected members of the right-wing party.
Having started as far back as the first round, and being intensified before the results of the LR congress were announced, it was clear that many within the party would be displeased by a political line veering toward Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.
Stéphane Séjourné wasted no time in “appealing to the Republican right”, accusing Éric Ciotti of being the “stepping stone” of the far right, and stating that his presidency would “dissolve the right in the far right”.
Making a value-based argument to attract them to Renaissance, he called on them to be “faithful to their values”, and told them that “there is a place for the republican, pro-European, liberal right in [the presidential] coalition.”. However, he did clarify that he was not asking them to “join” Renaissance or the coalition, but to “at least be faithful to their values…[so] we can move the country forward.”
In the Edouard Phillippe camp, composed of many former Les Républicains members there were not many people hiding their pleasure at the result of this election, with Senator for Hérault, Jean-Pierre Grand, celebrating excellent news for Horizons:
The victory @ECiotti is excellent news for @HorizonsLeParti and catastrophic for @lesRepublicains As for @BrunoRetailleau @lesRep_Senat he develops losing strategies at each election he must draw the consequences @publicsenat @MLMontpellier @Le_Figaro
Mayor of Brittany, Ronan Loas, who was once a member of the UMP which became Le Républicains, made his own call to his former colleagues:
“Welcome to all @lesRepublicains who, from this evening, join us at @HorizonsLeParti . Humanist, liberal, European and fundamentally republican, we welcome you with pleasure. Good luck to those left”
However, there is always a chance that Renaissance and Horizons may not actually manage to attract many of these militants and elected officials, as many of these politicians have a certain dependency on the party to stay elected and stay active, and may not have a solid chance of maintaining their positions outside of LR.
However, some deputies care less about this than others. Xavier Bertrand threatened to slam the door on the party, stating that he “belongs to the political family of General de Gaulle, Jacques Chirac, and Nicolas Sarkozy, who have always fought the extreme right”, adding:
“I don't like the Republicans' drift, I don't like this scapegoat policy. The right to which I adhered is the filiation of De Gaulle, Séguin, Chirac, Juppé, Sarkozy”
Fortunately for him, he has just created a new party that was nestled within the LR, called “Nous France”, which may be able to benefit from the fleeing members.
Even better for him, with Agir , la droite constructive having merged into Renaissance, his party may be able to benefit from the hole left by their dissapearance and potentially create some alliances with the Presidential majority.
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France has so many problems when it comes to identity politics so Christian nationalism is just more fuel on the fire. Plus, Christian nationalist and fascist groups cooperated with the. Nazi German government during the WWII