Conservative challenger in France’s presidential election, Valerie Pecresse, is taking stock of what rivals and campaign insiders are touting as a successful Sunday afternoon election rally — after a series of defections to Emmanuel Macron’s camp, along with criticism from her influential former party. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s coach.
Pecres, a former minister in Sarkozy’s cabinet, has been vying with far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour for second place in the polls – a reference to a place in the run-off against incumbent President Macron, who is leading the polls, but is uncertain.
Recent gaffes, such as her failure to remember that Mali no longer have an ambassador in France, and her perceived lack of flair as a speaker, have cost her momentum in the polls since her bounce back after being selected.
Some figures in her party, such as former budget minister Eric Woerth, have defected to Macron in recent days, raising fears that other big names could follow.
A report in “Le Figaro”, the French traditional right-wing newspaper, quoted scathing private statements of former President Sarkozy, whose views still carry weight among center-right voters.
The article quoted Sarkozy as saying: “Who is talking about Valerie Pecres? She is nowhere.” and “Valerie did not understand anything of the campaign, and I advise her to point me a little if she wants to support me.”
Pecres met Sarkozy in his office near the Elysee Palace on Friday, telling reporters afterwards that it was “very helpful to receive advice from a former president” in what was more of a “family moment”.
Sarkozy’s office also gave a positive description of the meeting, saying the two had a “deep discussion” in a “warm and friendly atmosphere”.
(France 24 with Reuters)