French politics

Le Maire, the outsider

Bruno Le Maire, candidate for the UMP presidency, during his rally at La Mutualité, Paris

Bruno Le Maire, candidate for the UMP presidency, during his rally at La Mutualité, Paris

When he decided to run for the UMP party chair, hardly anyone thought he would be courageous and determined to campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy. Hardly anybody thought he would get supporters and activists to defend his ideas and his visions for the main conservative party. Now, more and more people are considering the member of the French parliament may be a real alternative for the next years and, why not, winning the election. And the choice of La Mutualité, the place he organized his previous rally, has a huge symbol: this is the place Nicolas Sarkozy announced his defeat, the 6th of May 2012!

Indeed, Bruno Le Maire is appearing as a real challenger for the UMP leadership race, contesting the ex-president. The former minister of Agriculture and current MPs is more and more confident and attracts more and more activists within the UMP party. Recently about 80 MPs officially decided to support him and he begins to worry some Nicolas Sarkozy’s fans that probably underestimated his candidacy.

As you can imagine, I do not share Bruno Le Maire’s ideas and political visions for France. Nonetheless, I’ve always respected and considered him, due to his political courage. By running for the presidency, Le Maire dares to question Nicolas Sarkozy and challenges him. While the ex-French president targets the 2017 next presidential election, Le Maire wants to be seen as the one who makes a new bid for his party, updating the political data and software, to prepare the next political battles effectively and seriously. He wants to give a new breathe, a new direction for the French right by assuming its identity and also reaffirming its difference, which supposes clarifying its relationship towards the far right.

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But targeting the UMP leadership, Le Maire clearly opposes himself to Nicolas Sarkozy, considered by some UMP activists and executives as the main responsible for the 2012 presidential defeat and the one who prevents the main opposition party to be renewed and make the difference towards Marine Le Pen’s Front national. According to the Le Maire, thinking about a new ideology body taking into account the current situation and role of France is as important as thinking about the 2017 presidential competition. Indeed, due to the implementation of the quiquennat (the 5-year-mandate voted in 2000), most of the French politicians become more focused on the next presidential challenge rather than making some innovative and interesting proposals for the country. This is one of the direct and unpleasant aftermaths of France’s current political regime and a fastened the political time.

Thus, Bruno Le Maire, by introducing a roadmap for the UMP party, clearly wants to be different from Nicolas Sarkozy who sees the leadership of his movement as an important and inevitable stage for the re-conquest of the France’s presidency. The former minister is clearly aware he will not succeed Jean-François Copé, even if more and more people begin to consider another outcome for the 29th of November, the day the activists will elect the UMP boss. Because, even if Nicolas Sarkozy eventually should be elected as president, he knows the more he gets a low score, the more he will be questioned and challenged within the party. Compared to 2004 – when he got a real plebiscite by 85% of the votes – Nicolas Sarkozy is not seen as someone providential to save the French Gaullism and France anymore. As the opinion polls show, most French people are not excited or thrill about his comeback and even within his own political party, he is clearly challenged by outsiders as Bruno Le Maire for the leadership and Alain Juppé for the presidential election. Furthermore, and for these two people, the ex-president clearly underestimated them, because he thought they would not be courageous to campaign against him.

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In other words, even if Le Maire fails to be the next UMP leader on the 29th of November, it is still be a kind of victory, insofar as he will be seen as a clear and real political alternative vis-à-vis Nicolas Sarkozy. Contrary to Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Laurent Wauquiez and other UMP “quadras” (people in their forties) backing Nicolas Sarkozy, Le Maire  plans for the future and appears  a real and serious alternative for the future.

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