Uncertainty Looms For French Les Républicains As Ciotti Ousted Over Alliance With Far Right


By Hugo Struna

(EurActiv) — France’s centre-right Les Républicains party sacked its leader Éric Ciotti on Wednesday (12 June) after he announced an alliance with Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National, although his actions amid the ensuing media storm suggest he intends to cling on to his post.

Following the crushing defeat of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party to Rassemblement National, Macron dissolved the National Assembly and called snap legislative elections that will be held in two rounds on 30 June and 7 July.

Ciotti then announced that he would partner with the Rassemblement National – an unprecedented move that lasted for about 24 hours before the party leadership announced on Wednesday (12 June) that Ciotti would be removed as party leader.

“By conducting secret negotiations without consulting our political family and its activists, Éric Ciotti is in total violation of the statutes and the political line of the Republicans. He is hereby expelled from Les Républicains,” LR secretary-general Annie Genevard announced after a meeting of the party’s political committee.

In accordance with the party’s rules, Genevard is expected to take over the party’s leadership together with François-Xavier Bellamy, the vice president who headed the party list for the European elections.

The political committee, which unanimously decided to oust Ciotti, stressed the party must remain “independent”.

This means rejecting both Macron’s course and Rassemblement National’s “leap into the unknown,” said the committee. “The National Assembly will need a pole of stability,” Genevard added.

Macron also denounced what he called the “pact with the devil” between the conservatives and the far right at a press conference earlier on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning (13 June), Ciotti appeared at party headquarters, denouncing his dismissal as a “coup” by his party, confirming that he has taken legal action against his sacking.

Appearing on the balcony of the Républicains’ headquarters, to which he had blocked access the day before, journalists asked him if he had full access. He replied “almost,” adding that he was “working.”

On the same day, he published a video on X showing him taking possession of his office to the sound of epic music and the party’s logo – suggesting he wants to keep his position as party leader.

Two scenarios ahead of the legislative elections

However, Ciotti refused to comply with the political committee’s decision and said he remains party president.

It is “illegal and contrary (to) the party’s statute,” he said following the announcement of his dismissal on Wednesday, adding that a political committee should only be organised with the agreement of its chairman.

“I am and will remain president of the Republicans. The activists elected me,” he told CNews TV after the announcement on Wednesday night.

For the right-wing party, which won 7.25% of the votes and six seats for the European People’s Party (EPP), there are two scenarios going forward.

If Ciotti manages to regain the party presidency, the party would be on course to strike a deal with Rassemblement National. Ciotti said nearly 80 outgoing MPs from the party are ready to follow him in this “union of the right”, even though only one MP has publicly confirmed this so far.

Another possibility is for Les Républicans to drop Ciotti and continue without alliances ahead of the crucial legislative elections.

However, it remains to be seen how the right-wing party base will react to the infighting.

According to an Odoxa-Backbone Consulting poll for Le Figaro, published on 11 June, half of the party’s supporters are in favour of the alliance proposed by Ciotti.

For Bellamy, Les Républicains’ head of the party’s list for the European elections, the national campaign must be fought “under the colours of the right” and not the far right, like the European elections.

“This agreement would be counterproductive: In the first round, there is no reason why the right cannot oppose Macron (…) As in the European Parliament, we are the main opponents of Macronism”, Bellamy said


EurActiv publishes free, independent policy news and facilitates open policy debates in 12 languages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *