Credited with less than 2% of the voting intentions, the socialist candidate gave her last campaign meeting on Sunday at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. The end of a long Stations of the Cross for Anne Hidalgo, as the post-presidential ideological battle is already being prepared within the rose party.
It’s a lucky room for Anne Hidalgo. In 2014, the mayor of Paris had completed her victorious campaign there for the conquest of the Hôtel de Ville. As if to exorcise the bad luck cast on this socialist campaign, the party therefore chose to meet at the Cirque d’Hiver on Sunday April 3, one week before the presidential election.
A sign of the new place occupied by the PS on the political spectrum, the 2,000 places are slowly filling up. We are a long way from the 35,000 people gathered the day before by Emmanuel Macron. “We don’t have the same means”, explains an executive from Anne Hidalgo’s campaign.
Neither telescopic cameras nor distribution of by-products, the time has come for sobriety while the 5% threshold, synonymous with reimbursement of campaign costs by the State, seems to be receding.
Despite the gloomy predictions of polling institutes, activists want to believe in a jump in the final sprint. “We can do it, we absolutely have to manage to convince the undecided and the abstainers”, hopes Léo, a young 22-year-old member who recognizes “a difficult campaign”.
“The campaign has been totally stifled by Macron,” protested another. “But we have nothing to regret and we will continue to carry our ideas”.
To mobilize the troops in this home stretch, the mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, and Bernard Cazeneuve, the former interior minister of François Hollande, came to lend a hand to the candidate credited in the polls with less than 2 % of voting intentions.
Arriving on stage in a cloud of French, European and rainbow flags, Anne Hidalgo, navy blue jacket and broad smile, begins by paying tribute to these two great figures of the party. “Yes, the left which is good for France, it is there! She is there with you Martine, who has profoundly and lastingly changed life with the 35 hours, the CMU [couverture maladie universelle, NDLR]the law against exclusions, you Martine who for me are an inspiration and a compass showing our most essential course, that of social justice and loyalty”, launches the candidate.
Make the polls lie
Then Anne Hidalgo sounds the general mobilization by denouncing “partial and biased polls” as well as “zealous commentators who have despised the democratic debate (…). Together, we can ward off the sad fate announced by this campaign which has valued vulgarity, promoted the violence of words and which has opened all the microphones to hatred of others, to anti-Semitism, to racism, to sexism”, assures the mayor of Paris in an allusion to the far-right candidate Éric Zemmour.
After talking about the war in Ukraine and calling for people to stop paying Russian “gas of shame”, Anne Hidalgo then begins a full-scale attack on the results of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term. “His record speaks for itself. And as for his project, who would dare to call it social? Who reduced the tax on large fortunes to nothing? It’s him ! Who canceled the hardship criteria that we had put in place for the retreats?”, while the crowd repeated in chorus “it’s him!”.
“If you have left-wing ideas, if you are concerned about social issues, justice, solidarity, ecology, you must know it, Emmanuel Macron does not even calculate you!”, She continued. “Join your family of origin, the left of reality and reason, which recognizes its mistakes”, she urged them.
>> To read: Presidential: the candidates try to seduce the farmers
After Emmanuel Macron, it was up to the candidate of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to suffer the wrath of the socialist candidate, who accused him of complacency with Vladimir Poutine. “In the immediate term, you will vote for a candidate who refuses to help Ukrainians,” she said.
As announced in the JDD, Anne Hidalgo also detailed during her speech the flagship measure of her program: an emergency law for youth which will order free daily transport for those under 26 and will abolish the rights to enrollment in all universities.
“In the days to come, each vote won will be a new hope for the future, each citizen, each citizen that we have convinced will give a chance for social justice and climate justice. So, we don’t let go!”, concluded the candidate with a hoarse voice under the cheers and “Hidalgo president!”
At the end of the meeting, many activists displayed unfailing optimism, others, on the other hand, seemed to have already turned the page and raised the question of the reconstruction of the left. A socialist activist for more than 50 years, Daniel pleads for “a return to the fundamentals” of socialism: purchasing power and the fight against poverty. “Now everyone has to put their ego in their pocket to avoid reliving the same joke in five years”, mocks this historic activist.
However, behind the scenes, the return of the chapels raises fears of a merciless clan war between the young socialist guard and the “elephants” determined to take over the reins of the party. Thus, François Hollande, the former President of the Republic, has made it known that he intends to “take his part” in this reconstruction of the left and could stand for the next legislative elections in Corrèze.
For his part, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis has launched a “social-democratic pole” and several socialist personalities such as the mayor of Le Mans Stéphane Le Foll or the president of the Occitanie region Carole Delga have already mentioned the need for an overhaul of the left.
With the end of the presidential campaign should therefore open a new period of uncertainty for the Socialist Party. “We know it’s a difficult time but we don’t want a clan war”, assures Olivier Faure, the first secretary of the PS, to France 24 who recalls “that each time we were able to find ourselves, we won”.
This is indeed one of the paradoxes of the PS. If the socialists have almost disappeared from the political landscape at the national level, their local roots are considerable: the rose party still leads six regions and around thirty departments.
Beyond Sunday’s ballot, for which a historic defeat is looming in the first round of the presidential election, eyes are already on the next legislative elections, which promise to be crucial, even vital for the socialist party.