The center-right party leader of France takes a step back after the results of the EU elections

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PHOTO PHOTO: President Les Republicains Laurent Wauquiez arrives at the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of the Jewish institutions of France (CRIF – Conseil Representatif des Institutions juives de France) on February 20, 2019, at the Louvre Carrousel in Paris. Ludovic Marin / Pool via Reuters / Photo file

PARIS (Reuters) – The leader of the French political party Les Republicains, the center-right opposition party Laurent Wauquiez, said he will leave the party president after recording the lowest score ever recorded in last week's European Parliament elections.

The monstrous performances of the former ruling party and the mainstream socialist party in the elections show that both sides failed to recover from President Emmanuel Macron's election victory in 2017.

Their troubles pave the way for another potential head-to-head competition between Macron and National Rally extreme right-wing Marine Le Pen in the 2022 presidential election.

Les Republicains scored 8.48% in the European elections on May 26th, finishing fourth at the National Rally, Macron's LREM government and the Greens.

"Victories are collective, defeats are solitary. This is the way it is. I have to take on my responsibilities," Wauquiez told TF1 television.

"My decision tonight is a thoughtful decision, I decided to take a step back, I withdraw as president of Les Republicains," he said.

Les Republicains, founded by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, has been involved in the internal struggle for leadership since Sarkozy lost the 2012 presidential election.

"During the past week, I have done everything to try to meet those of good will. But I see, (…) that it is the risk of a return to the leadership wars and the desire for revenge. I do not want be an obstacle at all costs, "said Wauquiez.

"I think law should rebuild. I don't want democracy to become the choice between Macron and Marine Le Pen. The right must be rebuilt," he added.

Reporting by Caroline Pailliez and Bate Felix; editing by David Evans

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