French politic explained : right and centre primaries

In 2014 French right wing politicians decided to hold a primary for the presidential elections of 2017, whose goal is to select the politician who will candidate for the presidency of France for the Republican Party.

This is the first experience with primaries for the political party « the Republicans » (which should not be confused with the American one) and the whole right wing in France, and even if the name seems similar to the American system, it is a very different process.

How does it work?

To participate, candidates have to get 250 or more sponsorships from members of parliament and 2500 or more from members of any political party participating in the primary. Those who want to vote in this primary must be able to vote in the presidential elections on May 2017, which means those who will be 18 or more the day before the first round of the presidential election. People who want to participate in the right-wing primary will have to pay 2 euros to finance the organisation, and they will have to sign a charter saying that they share the values of the right and the centre. The first vote of the primary will happen on November, 20th of 2016, and the second one, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes at the first round, will be organized the following Sunday.

Who are the candidates and with which programs they expect being elected?

Alain Juppé: Alain Juppé, a favourite in the polls, was both the Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac and the Foreign Secretary of Nicolas Sarkozy. He wants to increase the number of jail cells to 10 000, modify the workweek to 39 hours per week, reduce the payroll taxes for those who will lose their overtime hours, as well as reduce taxes over all. He also wants to reduce public spending, especially on universal health insurance. On immigration, he wishes to put in place immigration quotas and to reduce the time limit of asylum seekers. He does not wish to reduce the number of legal migrants, although he does wish to control illegal immigration.

Nicolas Sarkozy: The second candidate in the polls is Nicolas Sarkozy, who served as president between 2007 and 2012. His goals are to create a security court against terrorism, to put in place an automatic preventative detainment and surveillance for those suspected of being terrorists, and to change birth right citizenship. He also proposes to create a financial aid to help the unemployed to find another job (which would be about 75% of the French minimum wage). He also wants to get rid of the tax for the richest people living in France. Finally, one of his wishes is to allow companies to fix their own working hours for their employees.

Bruno Le Maire: Le Maire, considered as the outsider of the campaign, proposes a « Presidential pact ». The first law he wants to establish is the reduction of members of parliament. Additionally, he wishes to remove taxation for wealthiest and also to reduce the number of civil servants in the government. On education, amongst many other plans, his seeks to reinforce learning the French language, especially in primary schools, raising the amount of French class from fifteen hours per week from ten. In regards to security, his plan is to add 26 billion euros to the army budget. In terms of immigration, he plans to shorten the time of treatment of asylum applications, and to limit drastically the familial regrouping.

François Fillon: Like the previous candidates, Fillon (the ex-Prime minister between 2007 and 2012) wishes to remove the 35 hour work week, to institute a large Interior ministry that includes all security services, to increase the amount of training for the unemployed, and to raise the wages of teachers (according to their age, the place they work in…). He is very liberal on the economic front. According to recent polls he could be the third man of the primaries before Bruno Le Maire.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (NKM): As opposed to the others candidates, and as the only woman in this competition, she would like to institute a short civil service, obligatory, to learn essential behaviour in a situation of danger. Furthermore, she hopes to develop small businesses, and to keep workers’ protections. On immigration, she refuses to remove birth right citizenship and wants to allow people waiting for asylum to be allowed to work.

What should be remembered

A total of seven politicians (Sarkozy, Juppé, Fillon, Le Maire, NKM, Jean-François Copé and Jean-Frédéric Poisson) are vying for this primary, with often similar propositions (reduction of taxes, increase in national security, fight against terrorism, etc.); yet what is truly interesting is that it’s not really a fight for ideas, but more a struggle between different personalities seeking power. Socialists in France are also expecting a primary for the left wing of French politics, especially those who don’t want Hollande to apply for a second mandate.

Paul Madec

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