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"As in the UK, the right must take up the cause of the people"


FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE - For the former diplomat François-Joseph Schichan, a rebirth of the French right will go through a change of ideological approach. The Republicans must inspire Boris Johnson who was able to unite, for a time, the working classes and the patriotic bourgeoisie, he pleads.

François-Joseph Schichan is a former diplomat, consultant in geopolitics and European affairs at the consulting firm Flint Global.

With their position on the pension reform, certain Republican personalities have posed a fundamental question: that of the relationship of the French right with the working classes of peripheral France.

The British experience between 2019 and 2021 confirms that restoring these links is an essential prerequisite for the political reconstruction of the right.

For a few years, the British Conservative Party has indeed managed to unite the working classes of northern England with the patriotic bourgeoisie.

The Brexit vote served as a catalyst.

Divided before and after the vote on the 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson imposed a principle on the Conservative Party: respect for the vote in the 2016 referendum, and the full and complete implementation of Brexit.

This clarification was accompanied by a change in broader ideological approach: breaking with the Blairo-Thatcherite consensus, the party defended greater state interventionism in the economy, the resumption of border control to limit immigration and the need to rebalance economic policies in favor of the working classes of peripheral England.

In France, as in the United Kingdom, the ruling elites and the working classes are further apart than ever.

For us, what will our Brexit be?

Francois-Joseph Schichan

The bet succeeded beyond all expectations.

In the 2019 legislative elections, the Conservative party won a large victory – while it peaked, six months earlier, at 9% in the polls.

Boris Johnson secured one of the largest and most stable Conservative majorities since Margaret Thatcher.

He won constituencies which, since their creation at the start of the 20th century, had always voted for the Labor left.

This situation was unique among Western democracies: for a time, the UK had the best-elected government in the western democratic world – in contrast to Biden, Macron and Scholz – and had succeeded in restoring ties between the Conservative party and the popular classes – an approach theorized at the end of the 19th century by Disraeli.

Read also“Between Paris and London, the cordial understanding”

Since then, of course, British Conservative leaders have missed the opportunity to consolidate this political upheaval over time.

Brexit promises have not been kept on immigration and the rebalancing of the economy.

The volatility, turpitudes and clumsiness of Boris Johnson will have got the better of this great ambition.

Nonetheless, the Brexit referendum and its aftermath served to purge the growing rift between Britain's ruling classes and the working classes.

In France, as in the United Kingdom, the ruling elites and the working classes are further apart than ever.

For us, what will our Brexit be?

Like the conservative party, the French right can rely on a popular right-wing tradition in France.

She has repeatedly succeeded in this alliance, but betrayed him each time.

Francois-Joseph Schichan

Opposing pension reform will not be enough.

Substantive work is needed to rebuild the ideological corpus of the right.

The Chiraquo-Sarkozyst old guard is resisting this development, preferring to focus on its local prebends and its small ambitions, such as the idea of ​​keeping the vote for pensioners.

On subjects such as immigration, the role of the state in the economy, public services and the environment, the right has proposals to make in line with the working classes, but its voice is absent today.

This approach is not only the right one on the ideological and political level, because it embraces the deepest political divisions in our country, but also constitutes a winning strategy on the electoral level, as the British example shows us.

If the right embodied by Les Républicains wants to rebuild itself, it cannot therefore do without a deep reflection on its relationship with the working classes, and on what this means for its political proposal for the country.

Read alsoThe shadow of Boris Johnson still hangs over British politics

It is never too late to effect this ideological evolution.

A few months before the resounding victory of December 2019, the British Conservative Party was moribund and plagued by divisions.

It rebuilt itself in pain – including by renewing its executives.

Like the conservative party, the French right can rely on a popular right-wing tradition in France.

She succeeded several times in this alliance, but betrayed it each time – Chirac in 1995, Sarkozy in 2007.

It is therefore for the right in the United Kingdom as in France to take up the cause of the people.

The experience of Brexit shows us that this is not only possible, but eminently desirable for the stability of our Western democracies.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-21

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