The president of the Hauts-de-France region, Xavier Bertrand, has announced he will run for the centre-right primaries in December, giving himself a chance to be the primary candidate against Emmanuel Macron. Mr Bertrand was originally running his presidential campaign as an independent candidate but has now decided he will participate in the December primaries and compete against Valérie Pécresse.
A recent poll put him ahead of Ms Pecresse and the other right-wing candidates for the primaries, sounding the alarm for the incumbent French President.
According to EU expert Mujtaba Rahman, the move could even see Mr Macron “knocked out” of the election at the first round.
He said: “While political eyes in Europe are all focused on today’s German election, there has been a very significant development in France ahead of elections next April – which is bad news for Emmanuel Macron:
“Xavier Bertrand will compete in the center right ‘closed primaries’ on December 4.
“Bertrand was running a breakaway campaign. This wd have split centre-right vote & almost guaranteed a Macron/Marine Le Pen runoff on April 24.
“Now we’ll have a centre-right contender – probably Bertrand or Valérie Pécresse.
“It could know Macron out in the first round; run him close in the second.”
At the June regional elections, Mr Bertrand performed stronger than expected, according to exit surveys, polling ahead of the far-right with a wider-than-forecast margin.
Mr Bertrand said the centre-right had shown it was the most effective bulwark against the far right.
In an Ifop poll for the JDD published this Sunday, September 26, the president of the Hauts-de-France region is designated by LR supporters as the right-wing contender most able to beat the other candidates.
Among those polled who consider themselves ideologically close to the right, 63 percent consider him capable of defeating the President of the Republic, against only 11 percent for Michel Barnier and 8 percent for Valérie Pécresse.
They also consider that he is the most able to beat the candidate who will represent Europe-Ecology-The Greens (69 percent), the socialist Anne Hidalgo (66 percent), Marine Le Pen (69 percent) or even Jean-Luc Mélenchon (66 percent).
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“Bertrand is perceived as the one who will beat his opponents , analyses Frédéric Dabi, Director General of Ifop, in the JDD.
“In a context where the right-wing people are in despair after two lost presidential elections and a recent chaotic history, this is their master asset,” he said.
However, if we take into account all those polled – and not just right-wing supporters – only 28 percent believe that Xavier Bertrand is able to beat Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election.
They are only 8 percent to think that Valérie Pécresse could beat the head of state, and 5% for Michel Barnier.
In all, 55 percent of those questioned also consider that none of the right-wing candidates can beat the incumbent president.