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Two More In, One Out

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Share the post "Two More In, One Out" The Republican presidential field took on a new complexion today. Michel Barnier announced that he is in, as did Eric Ciotti, but Laurent Wauquiez took himself out of the running. Barnier is a centrist, while Ciotti and Wauquiez both belong to the LR’s right wing. Le Monde informs us that Barnier, despite his vast experience, lacks charisma, tends toward rigidity, and is irritable, qualities which have earned him the unflattering epithet “le crétin des Alpes.” Ciotti is well-known for his aggressiveness as a partisan attack dog, not usually counted as a qualification for the presidency. But we shall see. If the Republicans have a primary–it’s not yet a certainty that they will–it’s shaping up to be a free-for-all more confused

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The Republican presidential field took on a new complexion today. Michel Barnier announced that he is in, as did Eric Ciotti, but Laurent Wauquiez took himself out of the running. Barnier is a centrist, while Ciotti and Wauquiez both belong to the LR’s right wing. Le Monde informs us that Barnier, despite his vast experience, lacks charisma, tends toward rigidity, and is irritable, qualities which have earned him the unflattering epithet “le crétin des Alpes.” Ciotti is well-known for his aggressiveness as a partisan attack dog, not usually counted as a qualification for the presidency. But we shall see. If the Republicans have a primary–it’s not yet a certainty that they will–it’s shaping up to be a free-for-all more confused than the Socialist primary of 2017. And Xavier Bertrand–still seen (by the mainstream media, at least) as the center-rightist most likely to beat Macron (and/or Le Pen)–will not participate even if there is a primary. So the presidential field on the right is murky indeed. Of course, as one jaundiced Republican acidly remarked, “in 2017 everybody said it would be Juppé, Juppé, Juppé. This year it’s Bertrand, Bertrand, Bertrand.” Indeed, “inevitability” often becomes an acute handicap once the race begins in earnest.

Meanwhile, it’s not only former-RN politicians who are pushing a Zemmour candidacy (as I reported in my previous post). Some card-carrying LR pols also want to see the pugnacious polemicist get into the race–as a Republican!

Will the plethora of candidates on the right, and the accompanying turmoil, encourage new candidates from the left. It’s not out of the question. Indeed, with the SDP in Germany now leading by a hair in at least one poll (Forsa), social democracy may be less moribund than it has appeared in recent years. If the SDP does pull off a miracle in the Sept. 26 German vote, expect to see some stirrings on the French left. Raphaël Glucksmann has already called for an “end to the farce” of left-wing bickering. Of course, such ritual appeals to unity have been a regular feature of the farce for decades now, but you can’t stop dreamers from dreaming. Still, the race is looking more fluid every day. Could be more fun than a barrel of monkeys–or more vicious than a basket of crabs À suivre.

Art Goldhammer
Writer, translator, scholar, blogger on French Politics, affiliate of Harvard's Center for European Studies, writes for The American Prospect, The Nation, etc.

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