France’s conservative Les Républicains have little to celebrate these days. The results of the May 26 EU parliament vote was worse than expected.

The leader of Les Républicains, Laurent Wauquiez, started pouring in as soon as it emerged that the party won just 8.5% of the vote in the European elections – a drop from the 20% its candidate François Fillon won in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections.

Rachida Dati, a newly elected Les Républicains MEP and a former cabinet minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, took to TV to pronounce the party’s result a “catastrophe”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former “President Bling-Bling”, as he was nicknamed when in the Élysée Palace, resigned as leader of Les Républicains’ ancestor the RPR when it garnered a mere 13% of the vote in the 1999 EU elections.

“The EU election result really is catastrophic for LR and in some ways I do think it’s down to Wauquiez and his adoption of a more socially conservative line,” Andrew Smith, a professor of French politics at the University of Chichester, told FRANCE 24.