Emmanuel Macron is not happy. He would love to run for a third term as president but the French constitution precludes such a prospect. Last week, he described the rules as ‘bloody disastrous’, a declaration that earned the president a reprimand from Nicolas Sarkozy in a television interview on Wednesday.
The former president has been busily promoting his memoirs in recent weeks, discoursing on all manner of subjects from Putin to mass immigration to the 2027 presidential election. It’s his belief that his former party, the centre-right Republicans, can be resurrected, but only if they ‘take risks’. That means a coalition, similar to the one that swept Giorgia Meloni to power in last year’s Italian elections.
‘Without unity, the right has no chance of winning,’ declared Sarkozy. The priority is to ‘find a leader capable of bringing together the friends of Messrs Zemmour, Macron and Ciotti’. If they fail in this task, warned Sarkozy, then they will ‘boost the National Front’.
It was no accident that Sarkozy referred to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally by their former name. There is no love lost between the pair. In 2015, Le Pen described Sarkozy as her ‘No. 1 political enemy’. She has consistently reminded her supporters over the years that it was Sarkozy who, as president in 2007, betrayed the ‘No’ Referendum result of two years earlier on the European Constitution.
In misnaming the National Rally, Sarkozy’s intention was to remind his still substantial fan base that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of the far-right Jean-Marie, who founded the party half a century ago. A vote for her, in other words, is not acceptable.
Sarkozy had no qualms about referencing Eric Zemmour, whose manifesto in last year’s presidential election was more right-wing than Le Pen’s, both culturally and economically.