French opposition leader Wauquiez steps down upon defeat in EU elections

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
PARIS
Published 02.06.2019 23:43
French conservative party Les Republicains (LR or The Republicans) leader Laurent Wauquiez leaves after a meeting with French Prime Minister as the yellow vest nationwide protests continue, at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France, December 3, 2018.
French conservative party Les Republicains (LR or The Republicans) leader Laurent Wauquiez leaves after a meeting with French Prime Minister as the "yellow vest" nationwide protests continue, at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France, December 3, 2018.

Following its poor performance in European elections, the head of France's conservative Les Republicains Laurent Wauquiez announced his withdrawal from party leadership late on Sunday.

"I don't want to be an obstacle," the 44-year-old said on French broadcaster TF1 and on Twitter, announcing he was retiring as president of the Republicans, France's main opposition party.

The announcement came a week after his conservative party plummeted to 8.5 per cent of the vote and 8 seats in EU-wide elections, which saw the Rassemblement National party of right-wing populist Marine Le Pen become the strongest force.

Wauquiez, whose party once controlled the Elysee Palace from 2007 to 2012 under then president Nicolas Sarkozy, has taken the brunt of the criticism from party members over its poor European election performance.

The once-powerful right-wing party has been seeking a new course since the victory of social-liberal Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 presidential election.

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