Paris (AP) – Former EU commissioner and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wants to challenge head of state Emmanuel Macron in the 2022 French presidential election. The 70-year-old man announced to the French television that he would run for center-right Les Républicains in April.
“There are difficult and serious times ahead of us,” Barnier told TF1. “I have the right to be the president of a reconciled France. Barnier had already officially announced in December that he would be brought back into French politics – but so far the words have not been followed by concrete action.
The main challenger to President Macron, who will run for the center party La République en Marche (LREM) in just over seven months, has so far been right-wing populist Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (formerly Front National) . Party. The various political blocs are currently in a phase of seeking candidates, and in some cases it will be decided during the primaries which will ultimately enter the race.
It is still unclear whether Barnier will have to win against internal party competition in a primary election in order for the party of former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy – formerly known as the UMP and now renamed Les Républicains ( The Republicans) – being the first candidate for the election for the head. There are currently two other candidates and one candidate running for the Republicans. Added to this is ex-minister Xavier Bertrand, who also wants to run for the moderate right, but refuses a possible internal party primary. Some observers see him as the most promising candidate to date.
For the left-wing alliance La France Insoumise (La France insoumise) Jean-Luc Mélenchon wants to start again in the presidential race, in 2012 and 2017, he landed in fourth place. A decision has yet to be made among the Socialists, who, along with then-outgoing president François Hollande, were eliminated in the first round of the 2017 presidential election. A candidate for mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is expected in the next weeks.
With Barnier, a political heavyweight is now embarking on the presidential race. The politician, who has experience in diplomacy, was appointed the European Union’s chief negotiator for negotiations with the UK after the British voted to leave the EU in 2016. During almost endless rounds with British negotiators, he accepted, among other things, the EU exit treaty. In January, he was appointed “special adviser” to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. During his career, Barnier was also European Commissioner for the Internal Market and French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“The world around us is dangerous, unstable, fragile. Our country is doing badly. It takes a change to reconcile, unite and really act, “said Barnier of the newspaper” Le Figaro “. France has been losing its influence at European level for years, unlike Germany. He indirectly accused Macron of making too many decisions on his own and advocated less centralism.