Several chairs will be empty. While Emmanuel Macron intended to bring together once again this Friday, November 17, the leaders of the parties represented in Parliament, after a meeting at the end of August in Saint-Denis, this time he will not be full. After the defections of Olivier Faure (Socialist Party) and Manuel Bompard (La France insoumise), the president of the Republicans, Éric Ciotti, announced this Tuesday, November 14 in Le Figaro that he would not be going there either. “I do not wish to be the alibi for yet another communication approach,” he says, adding: “the absence of the President of the Republic on Sunday, at the demonstration against anti-Semitism, has finally convinced me not to participate in it.

“Until Friday, the doors of this meeting will remain open to all those who have been invited,” responded the Élysée in the afternoon. “The Saint-Denis meetings aim to bring about new consensus on major subjects including the reform of our Constitution which should lead to the broadening of the scope of the referendum,” underlines the presidency, implicitly recalling that this reform was precisely part of demands from the right, demanding a referendum on immigration.

The Élysée also insists on the fact that “the agenda includes a point on the international situation, particularly in the Middle East, the consequences of which have resulted in an increase in anti-Semitic acts in France.” A way of highlighting the seriousness of the moment, while during the first meeting, Emmanuel Macron had slipped his interlocutors confidential information on the situation in Ukraine and Africa, with supporting maps.

While Olivier Faure was the first to announce his boycott of the meeting, the presidential entourage had until now hoped that the first secretary of the PS would change his mind. But Éric Ciotti’s decision gives a serious blow to what Emmanuel Macron presented, this summer in Le Figaro Magazine, as “a major political initiative”. His announcement came as a surprise, as the boss of LR, asked last week about his participation, replied: “rather yes”. “It’s incomprehensible and illegible,” says a regular interlocutor of the head of state.

The absence of Ciotti will leave only three opponents in the room on Friday: Jordan Bardella (National Rally), Marine Tondelier (Ecologists) and Fabien Roussel (PCF), if we except Gérard Larcher (LR), invited in his capacity as president of the Senate. On the majority side, Élisabeth Borne will be present, as will Stéphane Séjourné (Renaissance), François Bayrou (MoDem) and Édouard Philippe (Horizons). The president of the UDI, Hervé Marseille, often at the crossroads between the senatorial majority and the presidential camp, will also be there.

Another guest will participate in part of the discussions: Renaissance MP and former Sarkozy minister Éric Woerth, charged by Emmanuel Macron with a mission on decentralization and simplification of the number of territorial strata. The back-to-school meeting lasted twelve hours and ended in the middle of the night. With a smaller table, will guests go to bed earlier?