LREM nationalizes the ballot to attack Xavier Bertrand and the RN

Gérald Darmanin and Laurent Pietraszewski in front of the France cake tradition factory, in Tourcoing, June 18, 2021. – L. Cometti / 20 Minutes

  • After the failure of the municipal elections, La République en Marche wants to be modest about its ambitions for the regional and departmental, but it wishes to limit the damage, ten months before the presidential election.
  • In Hauts-de-France, the presidential majority sent five ministers to the lists against outgoing Xavier Bertrand, who made his re-election the prerequisite for his presidential candidacy.
  • The strategy between the two rounds is at the heart of the questions, faced with the risk of victory for the National Rally.

From our journalist in the North,

“Hello, I am the Minister of Occupational Health, I am Armentiérois, and I am a candidate for the regional”. This Friday noon, Laurent Pietraszewski strolls through the Armentières market escorted by a handful of running mate and a security officer. Between two cordial exchanges with traders, the head of the LREM list in Hauts-de-France buys a tray of strawberries. The former deputy for the North, who became a minister in December 2019, is one of the five members of the government campaigning in this region.

Faced with the outgoing right-wing Xavier Bertrand, the National Gathering in full breakthrough in the polls and the only list of union of the left, the walker Pietraszewski is a “challenger”, he concedes, “lucid”. In the polls, the list of the presidential party and its allies tops out at around 10% of voting intentions in the first round, in fourth position.

Posters in Armentières (North). – L. Cometti / 20 Minutes

Nationalizing the ballot, a double-edged sword

“We have to make a place for ourselves in these territorial elections, because in vain we have won the presidential and legislative elections, we need relays on the ground to explain the government’s action”, argues the former HRD of ‘Auchan, a half in hand on the terrace of Sporting, a local “institution”. By presenting themselves in their colors in the region, without making an alliance with the outgoing right-wing as in Paca, the Macronists have a double objective: to attack Xavier Bertrand, potential rival of Emmanuel Macron in 2022, and “to drive out the National Rally »In the words of Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti.

To achieve this, however, the marchers seem to hesitate between nationalizing the ballot, at the risk of weakening Emmanuel Macron ten months before the presidential election in case of failure, or confining themselves to local issues, even if it means struggling to find a place in the face of the older and better established parties. In the program of around thirty pages distributed to passers-by, photos of ministers scroll on glossy paper. Even if they are not on the list, like the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne. A portrait of Emmanuel Macron is of course on the second page, above this quote: “Until the last quarter of an hour I will reform. The Head of State has also opportunely made a stopover in Picardy the day before, as part of his Tour de France, on the lands of Xavier Bertrand, who said he would leave politics if he was not. not reelected at the head of the region.

“We came to eat cakes! “

“The president is recognized for his commitment and competence, as can be seen from his confidence rating, which is better than that of his two predecessors. It cannot be negative for us, ”assures Laurent Pietraszewski. “We were the ones who had to deal with the biggest crisis our country has known since World War II. The government label is a double-edged sword. “We are well received, people tell us that they have received aid, that they are happy, and that feels good,” says Marie-Hélène Creton, candidate for Armentières. “We are sometimes attacked on national policy and the management of the health crisis,” says Sophie Nikula, also running mate.

At the start of the afternoon, Laurent Pietraszewski was joined by Gérald Darmanin in Tourcoing, stronghold of the Minister of the Interior who won the municipal elections there in the first round a year ago. In jeans and shirt arms, the two ministers begin a visit to a cake factory installed in a former spinning mill. “We came to eat cakes,” complains Gérald Darmanin, greeting workers from France cake tradition, who produce 1,500 tonnes of them per year. Charlotte red on her head and white blouse on her back, the two men then walk the production line.

Gérald Darmanin and Laurent Pietraszewski in the France cake tradition factory, in Tourcoing, June 18, 2021.
Gérald Darmanin and Laurent Pietraszewski in the France cake tradition factory, in Tourcoing, June 18, 2021. – L. Cometti / 20 Minutes

Dilemma in sight if qualifying for the second round …

The scent of gingerbread does not make us forget the deadline of Sunday, as well as the advance of the outgoing president and the RN Sébastien Chenu in the polls. “Our most formidable opponent is abstention,” says Gerald Darmanin. The score of the macronists will nonetheless be crucial in the configuration of the second round. With walkers at less than 10% – and therefore eliminated in the first round – Xavier Bertrand could win in triangular against the RN and the union list of the left of Karima Delli.

But in the event of a quadrangular, the fate of the outgoing president could depend on whether or not the presidential list is maintained, which has not determined its position. “It’s complicated to ally with Bertrand, you are not going to marry someone who is about to leave the marital home. However, if he is elected, he will go on campaign for 2022, ”replies Laurent Pietraszewski, who however plans a merger of the list in proportion to the score of the first round.

More evasive, Gérald Darmanin quotes his grandmother, with the accent of the North. “Before the hour, it’s not the hour!” He says with a smile, before heading off to Berck, where Eric Dupond-Moretti will join his two government colleagues to campaign until the last hours of the evening.

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