At Macronist HQ, we recognize that “the real campaign begins now”
Defending a record has proven to be more difficult than the 2017 campaign. Relieved, LREM activists know that the hardest part remains to be done.
A word on everyone’s lips: “Relief.” A timid excitement accompanied the qualification of Emmanuel Macron for the second round. Cries of joy, flags rising, but before that, not really hearts pounding in their chests. This qualification “is not a surprise”, recognize Raphaël and Mathilde, students at Sciences-Po: “What worried us most was that they were neck and neck with Marine Le Pen, as the polls might suggest. They have a five-point gap, obviously that reassures us!”
Damy Dalo, member of the campaign team in the midnight blue suit and tie, agrees: “The latest opinion polls have made many of us tremble… We can breathe!” In front of them, the stage, surmounted by the slogan of the president-candidate – “All of us” – on sky blue background, is still empty. Clusters of activists in thin down jackets and light sneakers are stamping their feet. “Okay, is he coming?”an activist with a thin beard, impatient in a loud voice, under the singing invocations: “And one ! And two ! And five more years! He will arrive around 9:30 p.m., all sirens blaring. A president’s convoy in a candidate’s HQ. Macron will have his opponents from the first round with the exception of Marine Le Pen cheering before calling for a rally. The hour of the “republican front” has come.
Young people with Macron were among the first to land under the metal structure of pavilion number 6 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, dotted with blue spotlights. Many are voting for the first time in a presidential election, like Célia, 21. She says her “emotion” to be here, to campaign for a candidate president “which defends Europe and women in its politics”. “Even if there is still a lot to do!” At his side, Nathan, 17, full and youthful cheeks, says for his part that he was seduced by the “vision of progress” social and economic development of the founder of La République en Marche. The high school student may have never been able to vote, it is already his second electoral campaign. He has been active in the party since 2017. “I am a Macron baby!” he blurts happily, hands on hips.
Mélenchon calls for a dam, the room exults
In the midst of the hundreds of journalists speaking in all languages, we also come across sympathizers who wanted “attend this democratic moment”. Alain, 80, is one of them. He is happy tonight. “Never has an outgoing president been re-elected outside periods of cohabitation.” He corrects himself quickly, his eyes laughing under thick white eyebrows: “Finally sorry, Emmanuel Macron has not yet been re-elected.”
Facing him, as in 2017, Marine Le Pen, candidate of the far right. Yannick Jadot (EE-LV) then Valérie Pécresse (LR) called one after the other to vote for Emmanuel Macron. “A surprise that reinforces our relief”, for Lola, 31 years old. She works in marketing, hope that“despite the presence of the far right in the second round”the debates will not be “only on security and immigration”hope to hear “talk about education”. The room freezes when Jean-Luc Mélenchon appears on the big screens. “His position is the most feared!” launches Alan. Hands behind his back, he awaits the verdict. When the leader of La France insoumise begins his litany: “We must not give a single voice to Mrs. Le Pen!” the room exults. Alain, he has not moved: “He said to block, but did not specify how.”
The yellow vests have been there
Because the cast of this second round may be the same as in 2017, “the context has changed, it is more complicated”, recognizes Rémi, 32, member of the Radical Party, gray beret screwed on the skull. The yellow vests crisis has been there, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “The mobilization around Emmanuel Macron has not run out of steam. To quote our friend Alain Juppé, the militants are always in the game! But there is democratic fatigue and you have to know how to respond to it.” Claire, an early activist, goes in the same direction. She adds that“in 2017 we were not yet a party, we had no deputies, we were bringing a new, unprecedented project. This time, we have a record to defend behind us.. The campaign was not the same. “Necessarily the atmosphere either”, recognizes an activist. A little further, Philippe, a 43-year-old Parisian pharmacist in a woolen jacket, wants to believe that “the real campaign starts now”. “We no longer have a choice, we will have to unite.” Sandrine, a quadra came with a group of friends, has not forgotten the warning issued a few days earlier by Emmanuel Macron. She repeats it emphatically: “Nothing is acquired.”