Lessons from past for Les Républicains new leader

Simon Heffer, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to French politics

When, on October 13, Christian Jacob, a farmer who served as civil service minister in the second Chirac administration, was elected leader of the benighted Républicains, hardly a ripple was noted on the pond in France, and still less of one outside the Hexagon.

Following the party’s pitiful performance in the European elections last Spring, when they recorded less than 8.5% of the vote, Mr Jacob must lick them into shape for the municipal elections, due in March.

It will be an almighty job: the party’s membership has dropped from 235,000 to around 130,000 since 2017, and one can almost hear the squeals as it is crushed between the centrist touchy-feeliness of President Macron’s La République en Marche and the still-rejuvenating pungency of the Rassemblement National, the party formerly known as the Front National, under Marine Le Pen.

The centre-right in France has had a particularly bad ...

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