The president of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand took one more step, last weekend, towards a candidacy for the presidential election of 2022. But there is still a long way to go before it materializes .

The timing has been carefully chosen. At the time of the political re-entry and while it is rumored more and more strongly that François Baroin should give up representing the Republicans party in the 2022 presidential election, Xavier Bertrand took the opportunity to advance his own pawns. It is not yet a formal declaration of candidacy, but the words used in two interviews last weekend by the president of the Hauts-de-France region leave little room for doubt.

“I am more determined than ever, he said on Saturday in The Parisian. I am the representative of a social right, popular, capable of bringing together, and which will always refuse the slightest compromise with the extreme right. “

“Let’s not play around with words. You also invite me because you know my determination to be a candidate. So I will not hide behind my little finger,” he added on Sunday. Europe 1.

Beyond the confirmation of his intentions, it is the signals sent to the right and the spikes launched in the direction of Emmanuel Macron that must be remembered. While Xavier Bertrand left Les Républicains (LR) in December 2017, the day after Laurent Wauquiez became head of the party, the former minister of Nicolas Sarkozy insisted: “My political family is the right “.

But getting people together in LR will not be so easy. “Can we have a candidate who has left the party?” Asks Annie Genevard, first vice-president of the Republicans, contacted by France 24. “I am not closed to this hypothesis, but there are obstacles on this path. This is a question we will have to answer collectively. “

“Xavier Bertrand can embody a credible candidacy”

Some at LR do indeed take a dim view of the Xavier Bertrand option. “Betrayal, among the Gaullists, it does not pass. Many executives and activists are angry with him for having left with a bang. Politics is also a matter of behavior”, underlines another elected LR of weight, contacted by France 24.

Still, the leaders of the party will be keen to choose for 2022 a candidate capable of seducing beyond the small circle of LR members. If François Baroin does not show up in the end, who to turn to? They do not have the luxury to dismiss out of hand the probable candidacy of Xavier Bertrand, or even that, possible, of the president of the Île-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, who has also left LR.

“We can not afford to do figuration, insists the boss of the LR group in the National Assembly, Damien Abad, contacted by France 24. However, Xavier Bertrand can embody a credible candidacy. He has the expertise of a region, he has been able to bring together, he has ideas, he is connected with the territories, he embodies a popular and social right and he wants to go there. It’s positive. “

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Xavier Bertrand plays a lot on his profile which will allow him, he thinks, to exist during the next presidential election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Because since the President of the Republic made the choice to deport himself politically to his right – a trend even accentuated since the last government reshuffle with the emphasis on security and identity themes – the political space has been considerably restricted for The Republicans.

The media offensive last weekend was therefore aimed at emphasizing his difference with the head of state. “If Emmanuel Macron were on the right, he would have made the safety of the French a priority, he would also have fought effectively against illegal immigration,” said Xavier Bertrand, who also continues to present himself as a “popular” candidate when Emmanuel Macron is according to him a “liberal Anglo-Saxon” president.

Be reelected in Hauts-de-France

If it is impossible to predict the chances of success of Xavier Bertrand at a year and a half of the presidential election, the latter is however taken seriously by the entourage of Emmanuel Macron, who took the trouble to react quickly to his statements .

“Umpteenth announcement of the candidacy of Xavier Bertrand”, minimized on Twitter Christophe Castaner, the new leader of the LREM deputies, before counterattacking: “Same approximations, same arrogance … Nothing new under the sun: facing the crises, Xavier Bertrand thinks about his personal destiny. The Hauts-de-France deserve a full-time leader, not a perpetual candidate. “

“I wonder what is this strategy which forgets the commitments made, which forgets the region (…) and which launches into a partisan primary battle, there is something bizarre there”, added the president of the MoDem and ally of the president, François Bayrou.

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The president of the Hauts-de-France region had indeed assured to abandon the primary of the right, at the end of 2015, to devote himself fully to his region. He also said “my party is my region” when leaving LR in 2017.

A region that remains crucial, including to serve its national ambitions. Because if Xavier Bertrand wants to have a chance for the presidential election of 2022, he must first ensure his re-election at the head of Hauts-de-France in March 2021. In 2015, he had won against Marine Le Pen thanks at the withdrawal of the left. But in six months, the context could be different with a risk of triangular, even quadrangular. “If I win this election, he explained on Europe 1, it is because I will have succeeded in winning the confidence of the popular electorate.” If he loses, on the other hand, he will be able to say goodbye to his dreams of national destiny.

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