The Young Republicans are making their political comeback in Valence (Drôme) for a weekend to reflect on the future of the right. Under the white marquee installed on the edge of the municipal stadium, a stall of political essays welcomes participants. Immigration by Patrick Stefanini, Residence by François-Xavier Bellamy, “The French archipelago” by Jérôme Fourquet, The ecologists lie to us, by Jean de Kervasdoué or Let's dare to authority, by Thibault de Montbrial… At the Jeunes LR campus, before To move on to practical work, visitors are reminded of the classics. The organizers expect 600 to 800 participants.
The young right chooses the city of fifty-year-old LR Nicolas Daragon to send a few messages to the LR party. On Saturday, Éric Ciotti, president of the Republicans, was welcomed there with applause. The audience warmly greets the boss of the right, especially when he fervently tells them that he is counting on them. “Thank you for being committed and bringing hope. You are the future. I want to make the Republicans a party of new ideas. It is the youth who carry these values and this hope. We are working hard to bring to the highest level the debate of ideas which must provide answers to a country dangerously on the path to decline,” enthuses the deputy for Alpes-Maritimes.
Laurent Wauquiez's speech, promised late Sunday morning as the high point of the meeting, is eagerly awaited. Many hope that the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region will come out of his silence to show his determination for the next presidential election. “They shouldn’t be disappointed,” slips a young LR, smirking.
In addition to the participation of the LR presidency and the presidential candidate Wauquiez, the young LR are also counting on the interventions of some figures from the right, such as Annie Genevard, general secretary, François-Xavier Bellamy, vice-president and leader of the LR delegation in the European Parliament or Bruno Retailleau, recently re-elected president of the LR group in the Senate. Even Henri Guaino, Nicolas Sarkozy's former special advisor, is invited to a round table to try to answer an almost strategic question: "200 years of Ernest Renan, how to remake the Nation?" ". Vast program and great ambition to tackle this subject which was posed by the historian of religions at the Sorbonne in 1882.
For two days, therefore, the Young LRs work hard. The nation but also ecology and growth, disinformation, the police, the Republican promise, the social elevator... The crucial question of the young vote is not asked but the right knows that it is crucial. How can we organize the (re)conquest of young people who find greener grass elsewhere? In terms of greenery, the lawn of the Pompidou stadium is nothing to complain about, but for Les Républicains, young voters remain a major challenge.
According to Ifop, 41% of young people aged 18 to 24 did not vote in the last presidential election and more than one in two young people do not feel close to a political party. We also know that 31% of these voters turned to Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the 1st round, 26% to Marine Le Pen and 20% chose Emmanuel Macron, re-elected with nevertheless a drop of 7 points in the youth segment between his first victory in 2017 and that of 2022.
For this LR right which dreams of reaching the second round of the supreme election in 2027 to turn France around, the pool of young voters is an essential target. But why are they shunning the right?
Also read: Guilhem Carayon, president of the Young Republicans: “Unfailing loyalty in the storm”
At 25, Guilhem Carayon, president of the Young Republicans, has friends in all other political groups. In March 2023, he caused controversy by appearing on the front page of L'Incorrect with his counterparts from the National Rally and Reconquest. Beyond the turmoil caused, this proximity allows him to understand why competition is more effective than LR on the young vote. “We have not sufficiently developed the themes that speak to young people. I am thinking in particular of purchasing power when we know that, according to Ipsos, 77% of young people only have 100 euros left in their pockets when they have paid their expenses.” In addition to student precariousness, he discusses professional integration and ecology but also the modernization of communication tools.
A field in which Marie, 26 years old, activist in Paris, works. She admits to having experienced periods of exasperation while experiencing the weaknesses of the Republicans from within. “We address young people poorly or not enough on social networks. France Insoumise is a model that works very well, like the RN with Bardella who is very present on Tik Tok and the sailor activists who react strongly. We are not present enough in the response,” notes the young woman, impatient to see her party find solutions. An analysis shared by Éric Ciotti. “One of the causes of our terrible failure in the presidential election is that we no longer knew how to speak to voters, and particularly young people. We listened to some of them who have influence on the networks and who tell us that our messages are not received by young people. This is a gap. We need novelty and boldness,” underlines President LR, whose action at the head of the party is also appreciated. Several campus participants recognize that the projects he has undertaken at the heart of the party, such as the renewal and rejuvenation of the party, are going in the right direction. Some also believe that these developments will allow more effective introspection and will bear fruit.
Valentin Roufiac, 24, believes for his part that the LR should take greater firmness towards Emmanuel Macron. The president of the Young People of Paris was a supporter of the motion of censure which has just been rejected on the programming of public finances because he believes that his political family does not have to “save Macron every time”. And as the European elections approach, for which he believes that Bellamy would be a legitimate head of the list, this close friend of Aurélien Pradié (he was responsible for young people with Pradié during the campaign for the LR presidency) believes that the right must clearly display his differences with those in power. Valentin Roufiac, who has just declared himself a candidate for the internal elections of young LR on November 26 and 27 (even if it will be very difficult for him to obtain the required number of sponsorships) also believes that winning over young voters must be done in the field. This is also what Céline, 27, daughter of a local elected official, supports. “It’s not easy but we have to look for them in the faculties, the schools… The whole challenge will be to gain momentum until 2027. Mélenchon and Le Pen are strong among young people but they are not yet at the power and we can be heard if our subjects are carried by personalities who know how to talk about them,” she judges, estimating that the current president of the LR has revealed himself in the media since his election.
Also read: Éric Ciotti: “The right must take all the risks”
Not far from Céline, a young 32-year-old executive recognizes the scale of the work but remains optimistic about the capacity of the right to renew itself. He is like all these young LRs, lucid and in a combative mood, gathered on Saturday evening in the heat of a political start full of projects. “The paradox is that we are the party with the largest number of young members while being behind in communication. But this delay can be made up for very quickly. We can do it!”.