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Haute-Loire, Nord-Isère … “The presence of the RN is possible, but will not be able to do much more”

THE GALLERY – First of all, what are the main lessons that you take away from this second round of presidential elections in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region in a few words?

PAUL BACOT – The regional scene has not experienced very strong specificities, except for a rather “Macronian” trend which emerges and is confirmed overall, from North to South. In the metropolises and in the cities, it is above all the postponement, albeit partial, of the “mélenchonist” voices that have made Macron’s success. We found it in particular in Lyon and in a certain number of cities, even if it is less spectacular than in 2017. It also seems that the report of environmental voices has been done, even if it is difficult to get some. the proof.

This second round was above all marked by the rise of the far right in France, as in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, where the ground was not necessarily favorable until then? You yourself also mentioned in parallel a certain evolution of the very notion of political parties during this election, which would henceforth be directed more towards “fan-clubs”…

It is difficult to speak of a far-right electorate in my opinion, but rather of an electorate that has gathered around a far-right candidate.

We are used to having a fairly precise definition of political parties, which notably includes sustainability criteria. Because a political party is designed to last beyond a person, or an election…

However, we can clearly see that LREM was built in the perspective of the 2017 election and ultimately did not go beyond, by not succeeding in establishing itself during the last elections, whether at the local level , regional or departmental. It is the same for France Insoumise which remains drawn by the figure of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, or even to a certain extent of the RN, even if it is necessary to qualify on this point, because the latter looks more like a gone, but remains a family business.

Is there however a big risk of instability on the political scene as pointed out by several observers of the political scene with such a functioning?

It is not certain, however, that the future will now turn towards the replacement of parties by movements of this type. When we speak on this scale, we must refer to the international comparison, where we see for example that in Germany, in Spain, in Portugal, or in England, there are still parties which correspond to the traditional political forces known to us so far.

Why is this no longer the case in France? This is not the result of a single reason, but rather of exceptional circumstances, which led to this phenomenon five years ago. We have already summarized it by the encounter between an improbable man and an improbable conjuncture. We could have said that Emmanuel Macron had indeed won “a combination of circumstances”, so we must not deduce from this an immutable law of evolution, which would necessarily bring about the end of political parties, in favor of a large replacement by “fan-clubs”.

Do you think that the first formation that could be reborn from its ashes would rather be the PS, when it is precisely at its lowest?

It is true that there is a more fundamental problem of space for the Republicans, faced with Emmanuel Macron who takes and could take a little more space in the center right, thus not leaving much political space for the Republicans to exist. . He has also taken up space in the center left, and it is all the ambiguity of his presidency, which has also been served by circumstances, and in particular the Covid.

This crisis brought him several things: first of all the demonstration that he could manage serious crises, but also the postponement of a series of liberal measures that he wanted to put in place quickly and which, if had been able to complete them, would no doubt have contributed to bringing the electorate on the left towards other political formations in the presidential elections.

Instead, he pursued, during this period, one of the most socialist policies that France had had since the war, with an economy essentially financed by the state.

However, left-wing voters rightly criticize, sometimes epidermically, its lack of social fiber with measures such as the reduction of APL?

This is precisely the legacy of his presidency before the crisis, and if he had continued like this, the face of the presidential elections would probably have been changed. The Covid crisis has indeed stopped the defection of the voices of Emmanuel Macron.

There is indeed still a part of the socialist electorate who approved the actions of Emmanuel Macron, but this fell to its lowest point at the start of his mandate and then rose to 40% during this crisis…

On the other hand, the reconstruction of the political scene will go through that of the right and the Republicans. But we also saw, during the between-two-rounds, the president LR of the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region Laurent Wauquiez affirm, in front of the executives of his party, that it was necessary to respect the sensitivities of all the members, by not giving voting instructions…

If the Republicans want to regain a place, they must indeed take on voters on the far right side and above all, not rush those who have gone to the other side.

Because there is probably more to recover for the right within the troops who left to inflate the electorate of Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour, than on the side of Emmanuel Macron. It is now a matter of carrying out a medium-term recovery strategy.

The legislative elections will now be held in almost a month, in mid-June: this election is usually not favorable to the National Rally, but is there today a real risk that certain constituencies will tip over, at the regional level in particular?

Will we have, during the next term, RN deputies at our regional level in the National Assembly?

The thing is not obvious, but it is possible, in particular in certain territories like the Haute-Loire, where the RN scores were revealed. In Nord-Isère also, there are some possibilities. But I don’t see how the RN could do much more regionally.

Because we are today in a majority system which requires either to be sufficiently established to win alone, or to form an alliance, and this will not be possible for the RN.

On the left side, we are working on the broadest possible alliance – La France Insoumise and the ecologists have just announced this morning a first union, which now requires further completion by the PS, the communists and other leftist forces -. Is this an achievable goal, in your opinion?

The left will indeed try to unite, but the problem is that there are still major points of disagreement between its various parties, but as they do not directly concern the local and regional levels, these have so far been erased in previous elections.

A number of coalitions of this type already exist in several cities and towns such as Lyon and could facilitate things in this sense.

However, while local elections make it possible, through list ballots, to ensure greater representation for everyone, this is not the case with the two-round uninominal ballot, which makes things much more difficult .

If a larger union managed to take shape, it also remains to be seen whether the troops would follow.

Several put forward the option of a form of cohabitation that can emerge at the end of these legislative elections? Is this the most likely option in your opinion?

I’m not sure because all the precedents show that the electorate that mobilizes in the legislative elections is first of all the one that won the presidential election.

One can also wonder if the position taken by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to pose as a candidate for the post of Prime Minister, will not precisely play in the direction of an even stronger mobilization on the side of the supports of Emmanuel Macron.

This perspective could also have a negative effect on the left. Because proposing the rally behind the portrait of Jean-Luc Mélenchon could also amount to waving the red rag for part of the center left.

Does the presidential party still have the capacity to broaden its base of support?

It is still possible on both sides of the center probably, and in particular on the side of the PS, where it is not certain that some of the local politicians and elected officials are going in the direction of a coalition with Jean-Luc Mélenchon . We could therefore continue to see people pass into Emmanuel Macron’s camp, with or without reward at the level of the next government.

This strategy is even more true on the right-wing side, where there is still room for maneuver that LREM could have in certain constituencies. We may see it in our region.