Valerie Pecresse, the conservative who could become France’s first woman president

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS – Fifteen years in the past, Valerie Pecresse quelled a student uprising over her university reforms with the same mix of consensus-construction politics and reformist mettle that she believes will now propel her to the French presidency.

Chosen to run last month via rank-and-report contributors of the conservative Les Republicains celebration, voter surveys display Pecresse may beat President Emmanuel Macron in April’s election. If she succeeds, she would become France’s first lady head of state.

In an office embellished with framed cinema posters, Pecresse, FIFTY FOUR, reeled off an inventory of woes facing France that speak of her social and monetary conservatism: negative regulate of nationwide borders, violent town ghettos and a rising pile of debt.

“we need to restore order, each on our streets and in our nationwide debts,” she informed Reuters.

A minister for upper education and then the finances right through Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, Pecresse stated final week she may carry out “the power hose” to scrub up bother neighbourhoods the place the state had misplaced authority and lawlessness prevailed.

Critical of Macron for “burning a hollow within the state coffers” through the pandemic, Pecresse has promised to reform France’s generous pension machine and minimize a bloated public salary invoice – both pledges she says Macron has didn’t ship on.

Her style, she says, is “two-thirds (Angela) Merkel and one-third (Margaret) Thatcher”.

“I AM a lady who consults, comes to a decision and acts,” she mentioned. “the only-part Thatcher is to say ‘I’m not for turning’,” regarding a phrase in a 1980 speech whilst the conservative British leader refused to go into reverse on liberalising reforms.

Pecresse pointed to the reducing of loads of jobs at her head workplace to make method for more prime-school body of workers, decreased spending and better investment as proof she will get things performed. In 2020, she received a 2d mandate to run the better Paris area.

Warring Parties who had nicknamed her “the blond” had paid the associated fee, she stated. Asked if France was in a position for a lady president, she replied: “Voters on the right have proven they’re able, and so they will also be the most reticent to believe a girl.”


Pecresse’s birthday celebration, which traces its origins to Charles de Gaulle, dominated French politics for a lot of the post-conflict era. However after Macron redrew the panorama in 2017, it has struggled to unite its centre-right and staunchly conservative factions.

The defection of a senior conservative lawmaker to the campaign bid of a long way-right polemicist Eric Zemmour on Sunday underscored the problem she faces holding a feuding birthday party in combination.

Opinion polls display her in a close-fought race with Marine Le Pen, chief of the normal a long way-proper, for the second spot in the election’s run-off vote. Zemmour follows close in the back of. Will Have To she make it, she could be the most bad opponent for Macron, the surveys suggest.

Born in an upmarket Paris suburb and skilled at France’s elite ENA school for politicians and civil servants, Pecresse is a moderate in a conservative birthday party that has lurched rightwards because the a long way-proper fuels anti-immigrant sentiment and a want amongst many voters to get tricky on legislation and order.

Pecresse has toughened her language on immigration and id, seeking to neutralise the threat from Le Pen and Zemmour, whose promise to “keep France” distance-proper-commentator-zemmour-proclaims-presidential-run-2021-11-30 from Islam has polarised France.

She says she would finish the automated proper to French citizenship for individuals born in France and stiffen judicial sentences in puts where police have misplaced control.

On a table in Pecresse’s workplace sits a photograph of Samuel Paty, the teacher decapitated by way of a Chechen-born teenager in a suburb of Paris in 2020 because he used caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a lesson on loose speech.

Pecresse said the instructor’s portrait could follow her to the Elysee Palace if she received the election.

“we have now to be unbending within the admire of our values,” Pecresse mentioned. “within the public space, the legislation comes prior to faith. It’s the similar rights, the similar duties for all.”

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