“If I lose, I stop the policy”. This is what Xavier Bertrand, in Hauts-de-France and Valérie Pécresse in Île-de-France, promised in this campaign. Is this a real campaign argument?
This kind of commitment, what we will call “The Stop or Encore”, only engages those who believe in it. The promises to disappear in case of defeat, it’s almost as old as the Republic. Some respected them, like de Gaulle of course. Others have tried more or less discreet returns, like Lionel Jospin. Nicolas Sarkozy, he is really returned when he had said that we would never take him back. But between the return, and the return of envy among voters, there is a gap that Nicolas Sarkozy cruelly measured during the primary in 2016.
But we were talking about Valérie Pécresse and Xavier Bertrand, it’s not quite the same situation. For once, these 2 outgoing region presidents are playing their future well, it is indisputable. Through this promise, “If I lose, I give up political life”, they seek to give guarantees of sincerity to their approach. There is a little personal dramatization of this electoral issue. They also bow to a cruel reality: both play the presidential election next year. Xavier Bertrand is already a candidate. Valérie Pécresse replies that this is not the time to say it. If they are beaten in a month, it is the end of the beginning of the way to the Elysee. When they say they will stop politics, it also means that they are not ready to ensure 6 years of opposition. They wielded power and that’s what still interests them.
A sufficient argument for the voters?
Saying: “if I am beaten, I disappear”, does that really have an influence on the voters? It is not at all obvious. In Hauts-de-France, as a LaREM candidate summarizes, anyway Whether Xavier Bertrand loses or wins, he will disappear. In one case, the RN will be in charge of the region, in the other case he will campaign for the presidential election.
But this candidate LaREM tested this argument well with voters and realized that it did not work at all. Nobody cares that Xavier Bertrand is aiming for the next election. So knowing that he will give up political life is not very important either. So finally, when a politician says he will stop everything if he is beaten, he is talking to himself a little. He imposes a new reality on himself.
Long careers, made of desert crossings and rebirths, it’s over. When voters say no, they don’t want you and that they no longer want you, observes, lucidly, the adviser to a past president. You might as well move on. “If I am beaten, I stop political life”, it is no longer a promise, not always kept, but an observation that is imposed on them.