The Republicans
Les Républicains
AbbreviationLR
PresidentÉric Ciotti, de jure (disputed), François-Xavier Bellamy and Annie Genevard, de facto
FounderNicolas Sarkozy
Founded30 May 2015; 9 years ago (2015-05-30)
Preceded byUnion for a Popular Movement
Headquarters238 Rue de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris
Youth wingLes Jeunes Républicains
Membership (2023)Decrease 72,251[1]
IdeologyLiberal conservatism
Political positionCentre-right to right-wing
National affiliationUnion of the Right and Centre
Union of the Far-Right (faction)
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party Group[2]
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
Colours
  •   Blue
  •   White
  •   Red
National Assembly
56 / 577
Senate
115 / 348
European Parliament
6 / 79
Presidencies of regional councils
3 / 17
Presidencies of departmental councils
36 / 94
Website
republicains.fr Edit this at Wikidata

The Republicans (French: Les Républicains [le ʁepyblikɛ̃]; LR) is a liberal conservative[3][4][5] political party in France, largely inspired by the tradition of Gaullism.[6][3][7] The party was formed on 30 May 2015 as the re-incorporation of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which had been established in 2002 under the leadership of then-President of France, Jacques Chirac.[8][9]

The UMP used to be one of the two major political parties in the French Fifth Republic, along with the centre-left Socialist Party, before being eclipsed by the National Rally and Renaissance. LR's candidate in the 2017 presidential election, former Prime Minister François Fillon, placed third in the first round, with 20.0% of the vote. Following the 2017 legislative election, LR became the second-largest party in the National Assembly, behind President Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche! party.

After a disappointing result in the 2019 European Parliament election, party leader Laurent Wauquiez resigned. He was replaced by Christian Jacob, who remained in office until after the 2022 legislative election, which saw LR lose half of its seats, although it became the kingmaker in a hung parliament. One month before, in the 2022 presidential election, LR nominee Valérie Pécresse placed fifth with 4.7% of the vote. Despite those setbacks, LR was still the largest party in the Senate and headed a plurality of regions of France.

LR is a member of the Centrist Democrat International[10] and the European People's Party,[11] and sits in the European People's Party Group in the European Parliament. Éric Ciotti became president of LR after the 2022 leadership election. During an 11 June interview, Ciotti spoke in favor of an electoral alliance with National Rally to contest the upcoming 2024 French legislative election. That would have reversed the historic cordon sanitaire that the party had regarding the group.[12] Ciotti was expelled from his leadership position the following day and from the party on 14 June, though both decisions were reversed by a Paris court on the same day.

History

Origins in the UMP

The UMP's (Union for a Popular Movement) change of party name and of party structure was one of the promises made by Nicolas Sarkozy during his campaign for the UMP presidency in 2014.[13] After his election in November 2014, Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France from 2007 to 2012, put forward the request to the party's general committee to change its name to Les Républicains ("The Republicans") and alter the statutes of the party. The proposed statutes provided for, among other provisions, the election of the presidents of the departmental federations by direct democracy and consulting members on election nominations.[14]

Sarkozy wanted to change the name of the party to showcase the reunification of the disparate political views, from the social Gaullism of Henri Guaino to the right line of Patrick Buisson, into "one family".[15][13][16] As declared in an interview for the Journal du Dimanche, Sarkozy also wished to change the name in order to be ahead of his adversaries Alain Juppé and François Fillon (also belonging to the UMP) for the 2017 presidential elections.[17]

The proposal to change the name was not received well by all members of the party. In an interview for BFMTV, Alain Juppé mocked the ex-French President for wanting to change the name of the UMP.[18] Additionally, Gilles Boyer, supporter of François Fillon, showed his reluctance regarding the change of name by tweeting, "We are republicans. We are not THE republicans."[15] The change of name was perceived by some journalists as an attempt to make the public forget the judicial problems linked to the UMP, especially the Bygmalion case, in which some members of the UMP are suspected to have forged documents relating to the expenses of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2012 presidential campaign.[19][20][21]

Critics of the name change claimed it was unfair for Sarkozy to name the party "Republicans", because every French person is a republican if they support the values and ideals of the French Republic that emanated from the French Revolution, and so the term is above party politics.[22] Left-wing associations and parties and 140 individuals, including five having "Républicain" as their last name, sued the UMP.[23][22] The court ruled in favour of the UMP's change in name, stating that the "manifestly unlawful disturbance" and the "imminent damage" alleged by the complainants have not been demonstrated.[23] The new name was adopted by the party bureau on 5 May 2015 and approved by the party membership on 28 May by an online "yes" vote of 83.3% on a 45.7% turnout after a court ruling in favour of Sarkozy.[24]

Founding congress

The change to the name "The Republicans" was confirmed at the party's founding congress at the Paris Event Centre in Paris on 30 May 2015, attended by 10,000 activists.[25] Angela Merkel, chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, sent a congratulatory message to the congress. The Republicans thus became the legal successor of the UMP and the leading centre-right party in France.[26]

The organisation has been declared in the préfecture de Saône-et-Loire on 9 April 2015.[27] According to the statement of this declaration, its aim is to "promote ideas of the right and centre, open to every people who wish to be member and debate in the spirit of a political party with republican ideas in France or outside France".[citation needed] This party foundation was published in the Journal officiel de la République française on 25 April 2015.[28]

2016 to 2018

On 3 July 2016, Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would resign as leader that year in order to compete to be the centre-right candidate in the 2017 presidential election.[29]

In order to decide which candidate will represent The Republicans for the 2017 presidential elections, a party's primary was organised in November 2016.[30] The activists of the movement could choose between seven candidates: François Fillion, Alain Juppé, Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-François Copé, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Bruno Le Maire and Jean-Frédéric Poisson. François Fillon, with 44,1% of the votes, and Alain Juppé, with 28,6%, were the two candidates qualified for the second round of the election.[30] François Fillon won the second turn of the election with 66,5% of the votes and was therefore appointed as The Republicans' candidate for the presidential election in 2017.[31]

François Fillon suffered a historic defeat in the first round of the presidential election, as he was the first centre-right candidate in the history of the Fifth Republic who failed to continue to the second round.[32] This led to the victory of Emmanuel Macron,[33] leader of his newly created party La République En Marche!.[34] François Fillon finished third in the first round of the presidential election with 20,01% of the vote, behind Emmanuel Macron (24,01%) and Marine le Pen (21,30%).[35] This defeat is mainly due to the Penelopegate scandal, as François Fillon was considered the favourite candidate by the polls before these revelations.[36]

The election victory of Emmanuel Macron in 2017 altered the French political landscape.[37] After Emmanuel Macron was elected as president, he appointed three centre-right politicians in his government from The Republicans, namely Édouard Philippe as Prime Minister, Bruno Le Maire as French Minister of the Economy and Finance, and Gérald Darmanin as Minister of Public Action and Accounts.[37] The fact that three ex-members from The Republicans are now part of the government, has allegedly divided the political party based on views of whether or not the republicans should support the incumbent government.[37] Some members of The Republicans, such as Thierry Solère or Sébastien Lecornu, therefore decided to leave the party in order to join La République En Marche!, the new political party created by Emmanuel Macron.[37] Other members, like Franck Riester or Fabienne Keller, decided to create a new political party: "Agir".[37] Additionally, a parliamentary group including LR dissidents supportive of the government line, "The Constructives", was formed in the National Assembly, separate from the existing group.[38]

A month after the presidential elections, the legislative elections took place in France. In the second round of the legislative elections in June, The Republicans won 112 seats in parliament, which is 82 less than the number of seats won by the UMP in 2012.[39][40] This result was the worst performance of a major centre-right political party in French history.[41]

On 11 July, the political bureau of The Republicans agreed to hold a leadership election for president of the party on 10 and 17 December;[42] Laurent Wauquiez was elected in a single round on 10 December, winning 74.64% of the votes.[43] Laurent Wauquiez's election for the head of the Party continued to divide The Republicans as 26 elected officials left the party between his election on 10 December and 21 February 2018.[44]

Since 2019

On 2 June 2019, a week after overseeing the worst result for the centre-right in its history in the European elections with 8.48% of the vote, Wauquiez announced his resignation as president of The Republicans.[45] On 13 October 2019, Christian Jacob, former Minister of the French Civil Service, was elected as President of the party, taking from interim President Jean Leonetti.[46]

In the 2020 French Senate election, the Republicans held their majority.[47] In 2021 French regional elections, the party managed to retain all regional presidencies.

In December 2021, Valérie Pécresse won the Republican congress, winning the centre-right to be the Republican candidate in the 2022 French presidential election.[48] She earned 4.8% of the 1st round vote, which was under the 5% reimbursement threshold.[49] Consequently, the party's funding was left in a critical condition and Pécresse launched an appeal, having been in €5 million in party debt.[50] In the 2022 French legislative election, the Republicans lost 56 seats and fell from 2nd to 4th place in terms of seats.[51]

In the 2022 leadership election, Éric Ciotti was elected with 53.7% of the votes against his main opponent, Bruno Retailleau, who received 46.3% to become the next leader of the party.[52] Ciotti has largely been described as right-wing and of belonging in the populist faction of the party.[53][54][55]

2024 leadership crisis

Main articles: 2024 The Republicans (France) crisis and Union of the Far-Right

In the aftermath of the 2024 European Parliament election and the subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly by President Emmanuel Macron, Éric Ciotti declared his party would unite with National Rally for the upcoming 2024 snap election. This stance provoked a major schism within the party,[56] with French senators Sophie Primas and Jean-François Husson [fr] announcing on 11 June that they would leave the party.[57] Ciotti was voted out as president on 12 June, though he disputed the decision.[58] He was also expelled from the party on 14 June. A Paris court reviewed the case on 14 June and ruled in Ciotti's favor, reinstating him as party leader and a member of the party.[59] Ciotti's decision to ally with the RN was endorsed by the leader of the Les Jeunes Républicains Guilhem Carayon and by MEP Céline Imart, a member of the Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles (FNSEA).[60]

Ideology

On the political spectrum, LR are positioned on the centre-right[61][62][63][64][65] to right-wing.[66][67][68][69][70][71] They are a conservative party,[72][73][74][75][6][76][77][78] and they have been also described as liberal-conservative due to their liberal stances,[3][4][5] as well as Christian-democratic.[79] In addition, the party also maintains a Gaullist[3][7][80] or neo-Gaullist[81][82][83][84] tradition.

LR have been described as experiencing a rightward turn under Éric Ciotti, their present leader, and his predecessor Laurent Wauquiez,[53][66] in an effort to distinguish the party from Emmanuel Macron's presidency.[54]

Overseas territories

This section needs expansion with: other affiliated parties such as Amuitahira'a o te Nuna'a Maohi, Archipelago Tomorrow or L'Avenir en confiance. You can help by adding to it. (October 2022)

In Guadeloupe, the Head of List of The Republicans is Sonia Petro.[85] She has also served as the President of the Federation of Republicans of Guadeloupe.[86]

Leadership

President

No. Name Portrait Began Left
1 Nicolas Sarkozy
30 May 2015 23 August 2016
Laurent Wauquiez
23 August 2016 29 November 2016
Vacant from 29 November 2016 to 10 December 2017
2 Laurent Wauquiez
10 December 2017 2 June 2019
Jean Leonetti
2 June 2019 13 October 2019
3 Christian Jacob Laurent Wauquiez 13 October 2019 30 June 2022
Annie Genevard 30 June 2022 11 December 2022
4 Éric Ciotti 11 December 2022 Incumbent

Vice president

No. Name Portrait Began Left
1 Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
30 May 2015 15 December 2015
2 Laurent Wauquiez
15 December 2015 23 August 2016
29 November 2016 10 December 2017
Isabelle Le Callennec 15 December 2015 13 December 2017
3 Virginie Calmels
13 December 2017 17 June 2018
Guillaume Peltier
7 December 2021
Damien Abad
23 October 2019
4 Jean Leonetti
17 June 2018
5 Annie Genevard 6 July 2021 18 January 2023
6 Aurélien Pradié 18 January 2023 18 February 2023
7 François-Xavier Bellamy 18 February 2023 Incumbent

Secretary-general

No. Name Portrait Began Left
1 Laurent Wauquiez 30 May 2015 15 December 2015
2 Éric Woerth 15 December 2015 29 November 2016
3 Bernard Accoyer 29 November 2016 13 December 2017
4 Annie Genevard 13 December 2017 23 October 2019
5 Aurélien Pradié 23 October 2019 18 January 2023
6 Annie Genevard 18 January 2023 Incumbent

Treasurer

No. Name Portrait Began Left
1 Daniel Fasquelle
30 May 2015 Incumbent

Election results

Presidential

Presidency of the French Republic
Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round Result
Votes % Rank Votes % Rank
2017 François Fillon 7,212,995 20.01 Increase 3rd Lost
2022 Valérie Pécresse 1,679,001 4.79 Decrease 5th Lost

National Assembly

National Assembly
Election year Leader 1st round 2nd round Seats +/− Rank
(seats)
Government
Votes % Votes %
2017 François Baroin 3,573,427 15.77 4,040,203 22.23
112 / 577
Decrease 82 Decrease 2nd Opposition
2022 Christian Jacob 2,370,811 10.42 1,447,838 6.98
61 / 577
Decrease 51 Decrease 4th Opposition
2024 Éric Ciotti 2,104,918 6.57 1,474,721 5.41%
39 / 577
Decrease 22 Steady 4th TBD

European Parliament

Election year Leader Votes % Seats +/−
2019 François-Xavier Bellamy 1,920,407 8.48
7 / 79
Decrease 13
2024 François-Xavier Bellamy 1,783,965 7.25
6 / 81
Decrease 2

See also

References

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Notes