The National Rally won on Sunday the city of Perpignan which, with its more than 120,000 inhabitants, becomes its biggest conquest since Toulon (1995-2001), failing to win many more town halls than in 2014.
“We have won. It’s a system that is crumbling,” RN MP Louis Aliot, who won in Perpignan against LR Jean-Marc Pujol, told AFP, despite the withdrawal of other candidates who arrived in the second round.
“It is a deserved victory, it is a long-term job,” welcomed the headquarters of the Marine Le Pen party, president of the RN and former partner of Louis Aliot, who sought the city for the 3rd time.
The vice-president of the party Jordan Bardella congratulated himself for having “shattered the republican front” of the opponents of the RN.
Another RN deputy, Ludovic Pajot, won in the Pas-de-Calais Bruay-la-Buissière (22,000 inhabitants), despite the withdrawal of the outgoing mayor.
The extreme right party also won Moissac (12,500 inhabitants), in Tarn-et-Garonne, where the former parliamentary attaché of Marion Maréchal, Romain Lopez, had almost won the first round.
Perpignan “it’s a beautiful tree” admits Nicolas Lebourg, coordinator of the Citizenship Chair at Sciences-Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye, but “it’s the tree that hides the forest of bad results” from RN ballot, traditionally not favorable to this party, which however wanted this year to establish itself more.
The RN had certainly retained eight of its ten cities won in 2014 in the first round, but won only a handful of new town halls in the second.
His senator Stéphane Ravier lost the 7th sector of Marseille (155,000 inhabitants). And his opening candidate Bertrand de la Chesnaie was beaten in Carpentras (Vaucluse) by the various left mayor Serge Andrieu, re-elected in favor of a triangular.
In the first round, the ballot had not already been the great growth hoped for by the RN. The party had tabled fewer lists than expected and its results had declined in cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, including in its bastions of Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
The party therefore bet a lot on the election of Louis Aliot, which is the fruit of “local roots” for 22 years, according to political scientist Jean-Yves Camus. In addition, “between corruption, clientelism and impoverishment” of the city, Louis Aliot benefited from a “massive rejection” of the policies carried out in Perpignan, “including on the part of voters who are not frontist voters and wanted overturn the table. “
The victory of the deputy RN poses however “the question of the line” of the party, notes Mr. Lebourg, while Louis Aliot erased from his campaign any reference to the RN and defended on the economic plan a liberal line closer to the right LR than from the “neither right nor left” line of Marine Le Pen.
With the exception of Perpignan, the conquests of the RN can be counted on the fingers of one hand, far from the forecasts of LREM which counted 137 cities that could be won by the party of Marine Le Pen.
Despite attempts to open its lists to candidates outside the party, the RN “may not yet have the desired porosity, necessary, with the right-wing + mainstream + electorate,” said Camus.
The low turnout due to health crisis also probably did not help the RN. In the first round, those who voted the least were young people and the popular categories, all important segments of the RN electorate.
The RN had already turned the page, presenting the second round as a “new election” oriented towards the presidential.
Marine Le Pen welcomed in the RN’s victory in Perpignan a “real click” which will allow his party to “demonstrate that we are capable of managing large communities” in view of the departmental and regional elections in March 2021.
The already declared presidential candidate of 2022 also stressed that the city concentrated “all the failures of the policy led by French leaders for years”.