New popular union: the Socialist Party torn between relief and dissidence

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The new coalition of the left (Nupes) sealed last week between LFI, ecologists, communists and the PS in view of the legislative elections of June 12 and 19 is going badly for the rose party. Socialist candidates sacrificed, forced to abandon or dissidents, the atmosphere of bad days reigns in the PS campaign headquarters. After the disaster of the presidential election, the party nevertheless obtains 70 potentially winnable nominations.

An agreement on the union of the left, but at what price for the Socialist Party? Far from the enthusiasm of the speeches delivered on Saturday May 7 at the nomination convention of the candidates of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), there are grins, crestfallen faces and anger. That of the socialist candidates prevented from campaigning in the legislative elections under the agreement signed overnight from Thursday to Friday between the left-wing parties – La France insoumise (LFI), Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV), the Communist Party ( PCF) and the Socialist Party (PS). Painful consequence of the crushing defeat of Anne Hidalgo in the presidential election (which weighed only 1.75% in the ballot), at the end of the agreement, the Socialist Party obtained 70 nominations out of the 577 legislative constituencies. French. On the ground, the national union has a bitter taste for this party which still has strong local roots.

“New stage of the slow agony of the PS”

Olivier Faure promised that the constituencies of the outgoing socialist elected officials would be preserved. Yet in reality, some of these candidacies have been sacrificed on the altar of national agreement. David Habib (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), Michèle Victory (Ardèche) or even Régis Juanico (Loire), all outgoing socialist deputies, can testify to this: a Nupes candidacy is now an obstacle to theirs. There are also the candidates who do not wish to go to arm wrestling with the PS and prefer to withdraw definitively from the political game. This is particularly the case of Gisèle Biémouret (Gers), Hélène Vainqueur-Christophe (Guadeloupe) or Christian Hutin (North).

To the list of big losers are also added the socialist candidates, who in the name of the national agreement, announced their forced withdrawal, like Clément Sapin (Indre), Christophe Lavialle (Loiret), Aurélien Bourdier ( Vienne), Sébastien Miossec (Finistère), Arnaud Platel (Finistère) and many others.

“These withdrawals are all the more difficult to cash in that certain candidates invested by the PS have already entered the campaign, explains Benjamin Morel, lecturer at the University of Paris-2 Panthéon-Assas. Some have been able to take out loans to anticipate delays in obtaining banks, and even already incurring fees. They find themselves in a very uncomfortable position.” This critical situation “marks a new stage in the slow agony of the PS”, summarizes Michel Wievorka, sociologist and author of the essay “So Mr. Macron, happy?” (ed. Rue de Seine).

Rebellious socialists

In the midst of the sinking, some fervent socialists engaged in the campaign, no offense to the boss of the Insoumis Jean-Luc Mélenchon, refused submission to the new dominant force on the left. This dissenting line is notably carried by local figures such as Michaël Delafosse, the mayor of Montpellier, or Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie region. The elected official assured that she would support six socialist candidates in her region, ignoring any LFI, environmentalist or communist candidates. Less media, a dozen names of dissidents like Christine Pirès (Puy-de-Dôme), Xavier Perrin (Loire-Atlantique) or Valérie Rabault (Tarn-et-Garonne), have also announced their firm intention not to pledge allegiance to the national agreement.

But it’s in Paris, in the 15and constituency of the capital, that the anti-Nupes sling is likely to attract all eyes. Supported by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the outgoing PS deputy Lamia El Aaraje, who lost her mandate at the start of 2022 after the cancellation of the election by the Constitutional Council, does not seem determined to leave the constituency to Danielle Simonnet, national orator of the party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The sling of party cadres

The dissident is also supported by major party figures. Bernard Cazeneuve, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, Anne Hidalgo… up to the former socialist president François Hollande. All have shown their frank hostility vis-à-vis this marriage of convenience. This new popular ecological and social union “cannot be a source of hope”, criticized the ex-president on May 9 on France Inter. “I am not against the union, but I am against an agreement which, as it is, electorally and programmatically, does not allow victory,” he said.

If the creation of a political movement in opposition to the Nupes is not on the agenda for the moment, the mayor of Le Mans and former Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll said he was ready, Wednesday on France 2, to “lead the campaign” for the legislative elections of the dissidents of the PS. “Not sure that these positions taken by party executives will have many consequences on the ballot, believes Benjamin Morel. This ballot, eminently political, is likely to resemble that of the presidential election. However, it marks above all a fracture ideology between the two parties.

Risky bet

All the opponents of the union with La France insoumise involved in the field have already assured that they will continue the campaign without a label, since by opposing the party, they are in fact excluded from it. Fifteen days before the deadline for submitting applications, these insurrectionary initiatives still raise questions. Without a structure behind them, how will they spend the approximately 30,000 euros needed to campaign? If elected, in which groups will they sit in the Assembly? Delicate questions for the time being without answers. “It is difficult at this stage to assess the importance of these dissident candidacies as it seems perilous to continue the campaign without the support of a party. If only financially, since the political formation does not is more responsible for the expenses incurred, continues Benjamin Morel. We know from experience that new faces without a label have little chance of being elected. To win in these circumstances, you must therefore be sure to be able to capitalize on your name. is a risky bet.”

A glimmer of hope still remains in this gloomy picture. The Socialist Party did not fare so badly, according to some observers like Benjamin Morel. “They certainly only obtained 70 constituencies against 100 for the Greens, but that’s not so bad for a party that won less than 2% in the presidential election. And if we look more closely at the deputations obtained , they are few in number but winnable.”

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