On the right, everyone naturally stood up in unison when it came to joining the collective emotion linked to the death of young Thomas in Crépol (Drôme) on the night of 18 to 19 November. On the other hand, many eyebrows were raised when they listened to the president of LR, Éric Ciotti, refuse to stand in the way of the violence of the ultra-right groups that followed the tragedy.
"What worries me is this climate of terror, violence, aggression that must be fought and condemned (referring to Thomas). You want me to say something else, I won't tell you," the Nice MP said on BFMTV on Sunday. Invited the next day on "Touche pas à mon poste", Ciotti spoke of "dangerous far-right" and "small groups that must be dissolved". It is true that in the meantime some of these activists have been convicted by the courts. Chapter closed?
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No, because the episode has troubled many executives of the Republicans party, questioning both the substance and the strategy of their boss. "He's caught in the crossfire at the moment, but it's not very difficult to condemn violence wherever it comes from. We can't let people believe, by omission, that we have tolerance for the violence of the far right," said an LR deputy. "Many of us were shocked," said another colleague. "Slippage," for a third.
"Even Jordan Bardella immediately condemned these small groups"
"The strategy was to be the spokesperson for what the French think, he wanted to send a single message" focused on Thomas, said one of his relatives, refuting any refusal to convict, adding that Monday's show was more conducive to this. "On Sunday, he thinks that if he condemns the ultra-right, he will give the impression that he is on the wrong side. But at the same time, you can't not condemn, even if it's not just lip service," a senior official in the Senate tried to understand.
"But it's incomprehensible, especially when our strategy is to win back votes from the centre-right," said another MP, fearing that this would alienate the votes of right-wing voters who had gone to Emmanuel Macron. and that LR covets for 2027.
Many have in mind some of Ciotti's past outings, when he said he preferred Zemmour to Macron in the presidential election, or when he said that LR's difference with the RN was "its ability to govern". The RN did not procrastinate. An LR deputy chokes up: "Even Jordan Bardella immediately condemned these small groups that want to make their own law. He was softer and more legalistic than we were. »