The meeting room of the Strategic Council of the Les Républicains (LR) party on rue de Vaugirard in Paris is packed when Christian Jacob’s phone rang on Monday 11 April in the morning. The day before, the results of the first round of the presidential election had left the party in tatters. Never in its history had it achieved such a low score: 4.78% of the vote. The strategy committee convened by the party chairman must clarify the tricky question of the consequences. But the candidate, Valérie Pécresse, is a little late. Everyone is waiting for him. She’s exactly what Mr. Jacob is calling. She warns him that she will improvise a microphone in the hall and solicit donations. Everyone in the room looks at each other, nobody was aware of it.
For Valérie Pécresse, like for the party, the hour is serious. After such a defeat, it is time for a political, but also a financial reckoning. Below 5% of the vote, the Ministry of Finance does not return the money advanced for the campaign. In the lobby of the building on Rue de Vaugirard, Valérie Pécresse looks concerned: “The financial situation of my campaign is now critical”She asks. “We have not reached the 5% that would allow us to receive the 7 million from the state that we expected. She adds. Republicans can’t afford that spending. » And to insist: “I personally have a debt of 5 million euros. »
To close the gap, Valérie Pécresse then starts a “National appeal for donations”, This will be possible directly on the website that his teams have created for the campaign. It is, she explains, about the survival of LR and, “Beyond the Republican Right”. With accounts still being settled, the campaign team says they don’t know the exact amount of the candidate’s expenses, but are making sure they’re below the €16.8 million ceiling: around €15 million.
“The finances of the party are not threatened”
Nevertheless, within LR we want to make it clear: “The finances of the party are not threatened”shows Daniel Fasquelle, mayor of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and treasurer of the formation.
In 2017, after François Fillon’s defeat, the former MP was tasked with cleaning up the accounts of an anemic party too long used to taking the lead. The sale of the seat from 15and District of Paris whose tenant is now education, the search for the least superfluous expense and a rigorous rationalization of what had to be allowed him to carry out his mission. In anticipation of the presidential and legislative campaigns, the elected representative of Hauts-de-France has therefore committed 8 million euros. He gave the candidate 5.5 million. And lent him 2.5 million euros, which he wanted to reclaim.
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