Ahead of May 7 runoff, French right-wing Les Républicains on verge of split
5 May 2017
Ahead of the May 7 presidential runoff between the ex-banker Emmanuel Macron and National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, France’s right-wing Les Républicains (LR) face a deep split that threatens to blow the Gaullist movement apart. France’s post-1968 two-party system, in which power alternated between various wings of the Gaullist movement and the Socialist Party (PS), is rapidly collapsing.
LR’s presidential campaign was severely damaged when its candidate, François Fillon, was caught up in a corruption scandal after proposing an alliance with Berlin and Moscow against Washington. After the elimination of Fillon and PS candidate Benoît Hamon in the first round, LR is bitterly divided between advocates of a Macron vote and sections of LR closer to the neo-fascist FN.
On Wednesday, LR campaign manager François Baroin said senators who called for a Le Pen vote in the second round or who openly joined Emmanuel Macron’s On the March movement to run in the June legislative elections would be expelled. After the first round, Baroin said he would vote “personally” for Macron. However, he later told RTL radio: “All those who get close to Marine Le Pen will be expelled. … All those who get close to Macron before the legislatives, same treatment.”
LR officials also reacted sharply to right-winger Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s endorsement earlier this week of Le Pen. On Twitter, veteran politician Dominique Bussereau, a cabinet minister in a Fillon government, denounced Dupont-Aignan as a fascist, declaring, “So-called Gaullist but really a Pétainist [supporter of Nazi-collaborationist dictator Marshal Philippe Pétain], Dupont-Aignan must be beaten in the…