On August 17, at the end of the ceremonies commemorating the landing in Provence, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron invited François de Canson, the mayor of La Londe-les-Maures, François Arizzi, the mayor of Bormes-les-Maures to dinner in Brégançon. Mimosas, Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, Hubert Falco, who, since the spring and his conviction by the courts, is no longer that of Toulon, and Renaud Muselier, the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region . All are accompanied by their wives. A minister is also present at the table: Sébastien Lecornu, in charge of the Armed Forces, particularly appreciated by the presidential couple. One last man completes it: the former political advisor to the head of state Thierry Solère, whose birthday it is.
They all have one particularity: they come from the right. Emmanuel Macron even owes some of those present a debt of gratitude. During the regional elections of June 2021, the Muselier-Falco-Estrosi trio blew up LR to join their stable. A year before the presidential election, this was not without consequences. It is therefore good experts that the Head of State is questioning. What do they think of Éric Ciotti, the deputy for Alpes-Maritimes who has become the president of the Republicans for eight months? “There are two LRs, Renaud Muselier points out to him. You made a deal with Larcher on pensions, it worked. You made a deal with Ciotti on pensions, it didn’t work. »
A separate place
If the tenant of the Élysée is questioning his guests about this Niçois, it is because at the end of the summer break he is refining the political coup he is preparing. On August 2, in Le Figaro Magazinehe had promised for the start of the school year a “major political initiative”. The head of state is preparing to unveil it in a few days, in Point : he goes “propose to all the political forces represented in our assemblies to try to act together”. In this process which will be called “the Saint-Denis meetings”, Éric Ciotti is intended to have a special place. Since the start of the five-year term, Macronie has only a relative majority; The Republicans are his first interlocutors. In the coming months, this will be even more true. On the immigration bill, the discussions promise to be difficult because they set the bar very high. Likewise, no institutional reform will be carried out without their support.
With them, the tenant of the Élysée has never sought to enter into any government contract. It is not in his nature to tie his hands. After the legislative elections of June 2022, if he received Christian Jacob, at the head of the right-wing party for a few more days, he just retained his recommendation not to appoint any new LR to the government – which he is preparing to retouch -, in order not to target the 62 deputies elected under this label.
Subsequently, the pension reform confirmed his initial intuition. Emmanuel Macron considered that, if he had to resort to 49.3, so costly for him in public opinion, it is because of the LRs who failed him in the Assembly by changing their judgment in relation to their past position on the subject. During the June riots, he also noted the radical positions of Eric Ciotti. “He went back to the opposition pampas,” he then said to his colleagues.
On August 22, with this one, the head of state nevertheless put the forms in place. He calls her for an hour to personally invite her to the meetings in Saint-Denis, which will take place a week later. The tenant of the Élysée noted that if, within the LR, some are threatening a motion of censure, this is not the case for their boss. The deputy for Alpes-Maritimes judges that in 2027 his camp will have to recover part of its electorate who left for Emmanuel Macron, and that in these conditions we must not be too closed-minded. The president also knows what Nicolas Sarkozy repeats to Éric Ciotti, whom he likes, as soon as he sees him: he must make a deal with his successor; it is in everyone’s interest; this would allow Emmanuel Macron to gain stability in order to reform and the Republicans to have two or three ministers who would become leaders. On June 28, the former head of state received Laurent Wauquiez on rue de Miromesnil. “I keep telling Macron that he had to get along with the right and that if you were in Beauvau, it would only be beneficial. good for him”, assured Nicolas Sarkozy to the president of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
Three months later, the tone of the tenant of the Élysée has become less friendly towards Éric Ciotti. “Major political mistake” : this is how the first qualified on Wednesday the choice of the second not to participate in the second edition of the Saint-Denis meetings, scheduled forty-eight hours later. Emmanuel Macron’s anger is cold. It is all the more so since he had given guarantees to the deputy for Alpes-Maritimes by including on the agenda the broadening of the scope of the referendum to migration issues, as the Republicans have been demanding for months. The head of state immediately understood that this false leap, which he did not see coming, would ultimately deal a probably fatal blow to his initiative. On a human level, indirectly, he will also have drawn a consequence: within LR, Gérard Larcher, the president of the Senate, remains his only interlocutor.
Initially, Éric Ciotti did not think about leaving his chair empty. On November 7, he had dinner with around ten LR deputies. He explains to them that even if the exercise leaves him skeptical, out of republican respect he will go to Saint-Denis. Since he took the reins of the Republicans, he has always been very attached to ensuring that it remains seen as a government party. A week later, he changed his mind. “I fear that these new meetings are only an additional sequence of this permanent communication of which the French are now tired and of which we refuse to be alibis”, he argues. From one absence to another… He also justifies his by that of the Head of State at the march against anti-Semitism organized by Yaël Braun-Pivet, the President of the National Assembly, and Gérard Larcher.
In reality, something else was at stake. This fall, the immigration bill carried by Gérald Darmanin determines everything at Les Républicains. “Éric Ciotti wonders if he should not, at the end of his examination, vote for, reports a close friend of the LR boss. He wanted to show that, if this were to be the case, he was not necessarily a Macronist. » His decision not to go to Saint-Denis is a guarantee given to the hard wing of his camp. This is a way to prevent possible attacks from Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella. It is a signal sent to public opinion before the European elections which promise to be decisive for his party: LR is firmly in the opposition.