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the beginnings of a French presidential campaign under pressure

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The French presidential campaign starts very early and very strongly. The president slapped during a trip, conspiratorial remarks by Jean-Luc Mélenchon … Should we see the signs of a particularly virulent campaign? Response elements.

Conspiracy remarks made by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a slap received by Emmanuel Macron during an improvised walkabout, a possible candidacy of Eric Zemmour, the presidential campaign is well launched in France, carrying its share of incidents and surprises. Do these latest political events portend a particularly aggressive presidential campaign? “It is still too early to say it, but we risk witnessing a rock’n roll or even lunar campaign”, estimates Benjamin Morel, lecturer at the University of Paris II.

“The electoral calendar is thus made that the regional elections arrive at less than one year of the presidential election, which mechanically accelerates the presidential one, explains for his part Arnaud Benedetti, editor in chief of the Political and parliamentary review. is therefore on the same level in a context of presidential campaign with all the nervousness that can emerge from it “.

An early campaign

Because the political leaders have entered the campaign. Marine Le Pen drew the first. Since April, the president of the National Gathering has traveled through France in support of her head of the list for the regional election on June 20 and 27. Credited with around 8 to 11% of voting intentions since the start of the year, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has also gone out to meet voters. On May 16, the leader of La France insoumise chose the mining town of Aubin, in Aveyron, for the first meeting of his third presidential campaign. Under his conditions, Emmanuel Macron had no other choice than to also launch an assault on the French.

The head of state also grabbed his walking stick for a “secular pilgrimage” officially intended to “take the pulse of France” shaken by fifteen months of pandemic. This “tour of France of the territories”, started on June 2 in the Lot and which led it on June 8 in the Drôme, shows all the signs of an unofficial campaign. The aggression of the president, receiving a slap in the face from a royalist militant, is another element which marks the great ambient feverishness.

The health crisis, an accelerator of aggression ?

“For several weeks, we have felt an exacerbation of the public debate through clashes, provocations, transgressive images, notes Arnaud Benedetti. We are perhaps witnessing a change in the nature of the debate. will not necessarily resurface in the discourse of political leaders but in the democratic debate “.

Can the Covid crisis explain this aggressiveness? “The company was put under a hood for long months when it was already experiencing tensions, notes Arnaud Benedetti. One can think that this exit from the health crisis risks to release more aggressive impulses and give an amplifying effect to violence”.

Campaign incidents involving public figures are not, however, new. In 2001, Jacques Chirac was called an “asshole” during a walkabout. In 2017, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls was also slapped in the campaign for the primary of the left. The same year, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, then a legislative candidate in Paris, was jostled in a market.

As for the words of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, this is not his first provocation. If he was able to make openly conspiratorial remarks, Sunday, on France Inter, “we know that he is capable of doing much worse”, assures the sociologist Michel Wieviorka to France 24. In particular when he was opposed with virulence to the police “who came to search his home and the headquarters of LFI as part of two preliminary investigations by the Paris prosecutor’s office.” So far, “the strategy of provocation undertaken by the head of LFI has been rather beneficial to him, observes Arnaud Benedetti , so he continues his bidding business. But it is not certain that this conspiratorial framework is reassuring for those who want to run for a presidential election “.

A political and media context which “favors excesses”

In all the campaigns, “there have always been incidents, moments of hesitation, ubiquitous candidacies, abounds Benjamin Morel. All this is not so unique. However certain elements should alert us. In particular the decomposition of the French political landscape . The traditional parties have always had a cooling effect of speech with elements of languages ​​worked on prepared themes. However, the weakening of these political bodies favors excesses. Without leadership in the parties, the candidates must transgress more in order to exist “.

Moreover, “it’s a bit of a cream pie to say it, but the proliferation of news channels and social networks have also favored comments made hot”, therefore more often provocative, continues the professor.

Another phenomenon, Benjamin Morel adds that there is a distortion of the supply of candidates and the demand of voters: citizens often have more radical ideas than their candidate. “This phenomenon is not new, but it is now on a larger scale.”

In this context, it is therefore not surprising to see the emergence of divisive and disruptive personalities like Eric Zemmour, more like the expectations of right-wing voters. “If he presents himself, we will probably witness an increase in the remarks made by the right, concludes Benjamin Morel. And Marine Le Pen could well be obliged to also radicalize his speech”.

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