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Court overturns Ciotti’s dismissal

The dispute among France's conservatives continues. A court has temporarily overturned the expulsion of party leader Ciotti. He had offered his party an electoral alliance with Marine Le Pen's RN, thereby sparking outrage.

A court in France has declared the expulsion of Eric Ciotti, the leader of the conservative party Les Républicains (LR), invalid for the time being. The responsible Paris court declared that it had “ordered the suspension of the effects of the two decisions on the final exclusion that were pronounced against Eric Ciotti on 12 and 14 June”. The suspension only applies “until a final decision is announced on the main issue”. Ciotti must initiate main proceedings on the disputed issue within eight days, until he will remain head of the party.

The court case was a further step in an unprecedented dispute that is putting the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy to the test just two weeks before the short-notice parliamentary election. The rest of the LR party leadership had decided to expel Ciotti because of an electoral alliance he had offered with the right-wing populists of Marine Le Pen. Several local politicians and Republican senators announced their resignation from the party.

Nevertheless, Ciotti came to the party headquarters, took legal action against the expulsion and met for dinner with RN leader Jordan Bardella, arguing that the party leadership had violated the party's statutes.

Ciotti holds on to position

“The judiciary has spoken, I am the chairman of the Republicans,” Ciotti said in an initial reaction to the AFP news agency. For him, this decision was “a legal matter of course.” The attempt to remove him from power “had no legal basis.” He also confirmed to AFP that he wanted to stick to the campaign path he had chosen and help a right-wing alliance to victory “in order to prevent the extreme left, which represents a great danger to our country.”

So far, the Republicans have followed the line of not supporting the RN candidates – nor the candidates of the left-wing populists. The conservatives see themselves as the successors to Charles de Gaulle, who led the resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II. The RN, on the other hand, is the successor party to the Front National, whose founders included Jean-Marie Le Pen and a former member of the Waffen-SS.

Little time for Listing

An alliance between the bourgeois right party and the RN would be a break with the position of maintaining a firewall against the extreme right. The internal party dispute is now not only about Ciotti's future, but also about whether the former People's Party and the right-wing nationalists will cooperate in nominating candidates in the constituencies, or whether the Republicans will act independently, as the moderate wing of the party wants.

There is not much time left until the candidates are nominated. The parties must have named their candidates by Sunday evening at the latest. In response to the defeat of his liberal forces in the European elections and the landslide victory of the right-wing nationalists, President Emmanuel Macron surprisingly dissolved the National Assembly and announced new elections for June 30 and July 7.

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