The result of the Italian legislative elections gave food for thought to various currents of the French Right. Should they form a coalition, like the one that allowed the powerhouse of Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi to win the election? The newspaper Le Figaro commissioned a poll from the Odoxa institute, and the results are not very favourable to a union of the Rights in France.
Among all the people questioned, the result is clear: 65% of French people, all tendencies included, do not want to hear about an Italian-style union of the Rights. This is an impressive repudiation of the apparently successful collaborative formulas that have recently proved their worth in Italy and Sweden. The French believe that such combinations are highly unlikely in the French political landscape, and more importantly, that they are undesirable. The famous cordon sanitaire is still very much in play for the majority of French people who cannot envisage working in a peaceful and normal way with the Front National and its heirs—the present Rassemblement National and Reconquête.
Among the supporters and adherents of the three right-wing parties, the poll showed results that deviated from the general population’s. Unsurprisingly, the supporters of Reconquête (71%) and the Rassemblement National (RN) (66%) welcome the Italian and Swedish results which give them “hope.” But the majority of Les Républicains (LR) sympathisers (at 56%) see these victorious alliances as a “source of fear,” and do not wish to see these patterns occur in France.
When it comes to imagining the contours of a collaboration within the Right, 68% of the Rassemblement National and 93% of Reconquête want to set up an alliance. These results are logical, insofar as Éric Zemmour’s party has made the union of the Rights one of the major axes of its communication, without however succeeding in implementing it in practice for the presidential election. Reconquête had managed to poach personalities who were members of the Rassemblement National—or had broken with the RN—but had very little support from Les Républicains elected representatives.
In essence, the Figaro poll shows that a marked polarisation between the different parties is at work. Les Républicains are increasingly moving away from the Right and towards the Centre. Les Républicains believe that an alliance with the Macronists of Renaissance would be the most natural and logical: 51% of LR sympathisers who want an alliance (27% do not want one, preferring to remain alone) imagine it with Renaissance. In contrast, at Reconquête, an alliance is ardently desired (only 8% prefer the isolation of the party), leaning toward the RN (63% are in favour of an alliance with the RN, and only 20% want to get closer to LR). In the Rassemblement National, the game remains very open, as activists are almost equally in favour of an alliance with Reconquête, or with Les Républicains, or with both.
The ‘centrism’ displayed by the Republicans at the level of party structures—according to the poll, it would be better to be with Renaissance than with the RN or Reconquête—does not fail to raise questions due to its lack of consistency. Indeed, in terms of content, eight themes (out of the nine proposed by the poll) show obvious ideological proximity between LR and RN sympathisers: security, family, or employment, but also taxes, immigration, growth, purchasing power, or even France’s place in the world.
At a time when the party is preparing to elect a new president, the profiles of the candidates for the post are becoming more ‘right-wing’ in terms of their discourse and preferred themes, with security and immigration at the top of the list. On these key issues, a character like Éric Ciotti refuses to align himself with Emmanuel Macron’s policy. But despite failures to show the way, the party of the governmental right is unable to overcome its obvious contradictions on the ideological level. Journalist and analyst Paul Cébille, working for the IFOP polling institute and looking at the figures published by Le Figaro, does not hesitate to speak of a “textbook case of cognitive dissonance” on the part of LR militants.
Is this a way of clinging to what was once their leadership of the French Right, which has now been severely eroded? Les Républicains probably feel that they risk being marginalised, or even drowned in a coalition when the electoral momentum is clearly not on their side. Even if, as the French expression goes, “comparaison n’est pas raison” (comparison is not reasonable), they would only play the role of Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, which is now clearly losing ground. Their resistance to the union of the Rights looks like the survival instinct of a party that does not want to die. In such conditions, the conquest of power in France by conservative forces, contrary to what is happening elsewhere in Europe, remains largely in the realm of hypothesis: just a dream.