France now has a chance to bury the demons of its darkest political era

Can Valérie Pécresse, Les Républicains’ candidate, overtake Le Pen and Zemmour, asks Denis MacShane

Monday 06 December 2021 12:54
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<p>Les Républicains’ candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, Valerie Pecresse </p>

Les Républicains’ candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, Valerie Pecresse

Valérie Pécresse, the candidate now chosen by the main centre-right French party, Les Républicains, could easily have fitted into Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet. She is a centrist, liberal, multi-lingual, pro-business technocrat with the same elite education as Macron.

An English comparison might be Amber Rudd or, in a previous Tory government, Virginia Bottomley. Pécresse is a friendly, articulate, middle-of-the-road mother of three, with loads of charm and a nice smile, but without that killer focus to go fast to the top.

She saw off three male opponents for the nomination. Michel Barnier, Monsieur Brexit, tried with a very late bid as the older Joe Biden-type candidate. But he had to pretend to be an anti-European and issued windy threats against Brussels which dismayed his fans and failed to convince party activists.

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