The Les Républicains party (right-wing) have chosen Valérie Pécresse, current president of the Regional Council of Île-de-France, in the primary run-off to represent them in next year’s presidential election.
The party’s choice was announced by leader Christian Jacob.
Historic vote on the French right. The Republicans have picked a female presidential candidate for the first time: Valérie Pécresse. She beat Ciotti by a convincing 61%. A former economy minister, traditional conservative, and énarque, she will be a tricky challenger for Macron pic.twitter.com/FuRetNrLTW— Sophie Pedder (@PedderSophie) December 4, 2021
Ms Pécresse has aimed to present herself as the moderate choice, in contrast to runner-up Éric Ciotti, who she had painted as more of an extreme candidate.
She has famously summarised herself as “two-thirds Merkel and one-third Thatcher”, and criticised President Emmanuel Macron for a “five-year term for almost nothing”.
She told CNews: "With me, you will have no bluster, no half measures, no false promises because I will be in the business of doing, and not in the business of pleasure (dans le faire et pas dans le plaisir).”
Both Ms Pécresse and Mr Ciotti made it to the last round in votes earlier this week, while former minister Xavier Bertrand and former Brexit negotiator Michel Barner had been knocked out in the previous round. Both of the latter had said they would support Ms Pécresse.
Mr Ciotti has now also pledged his support for Ms Pécresse, who won the run-off with almost 61% of the vote.
After learning of her win, Ms Pécresse, who is the party’s first-ever female candidate, said: “I am thinking of all the women of France today. I will give everything to triumph.”
She has said that she will fight to make France “respected in the world”, and despite presenting herself as moderate, has pledged measures on immigration and crime that some might see as more right-wing.
These include harsher measures on crime, halving the number of residence permits for non-EU migrants, and banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves while accompanying children on school trips.
She has also pledged to raise salaries by 10% for everyone who earns less than €3,000 net per month.
Ms Pécresse has also aired strong views on Brexit, saying that “it should be painful” to leave the EU, and that she wants to see a stronger, braver EU that does not “give in to the diktat of the UK”.