Soon noon, a small set of buildings on the outskirts of Abbeville (Somme). We have lunch early on Saturday in Menchecourt. Near the fields, the old sugar factory has given way to a shopping centre. The sound system launched at full speed to announce the arrival of the local deputy, François Ruffin (La France insoumise, LFI), leaves the walkers of pit bulls impassive. A few weeks ago, in the first round of the presidential election, in the school opposite, his supporters who stripped in this office counted 359 votes for Marine Le Pen (46%), 163 for Emmanuel Macron (21%). , 134 for Jean-Luc Mélenchon (17%). In the second round, the candidate of the National Rally (RN) collected 65% of the votes cast. A summary of this France of the towns mentioned by the deputy the day after the first round. In an interview with Liberation, he already regretted that it “does not appear as a priority” of LFI and called not to “abandon it to the National Rally”.

This explains the apathy of the neighborhood, which quietly continues to sweep its doorstep without much curiosity for the noisy band of Picardy standing, the microparty of François Ruffin. However, it is difficult to remain indifferent to its festive panoply. “We tried everything, karaoke, the petanque tournament, darts, and tonight running,” says the deputy of the Somme to his supporters. “Soon the asylum”, slips a teasing activist.

In this corner of Picardy, the new national label of the unitary left does not count for much. Difficult to distinguish an effect of the agreement of the New Popular, Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) between Parisian staffs. “Here, the Nupes is not a campaign argument,” explains the candidate for a second term. In 2017, he had already succeeded in uniting behind him the “rebellious”, the communists and the environmentalists. As for the figure of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, locally, “his electoral base is too weak”, affirms the deputy documentary filmmaker. The LFI leader is nowhere on the leaflets distributed.

The familiar figure in the corner, more than Jean-Luc Mélenchon or even François Ruffin, is Marine Le Pen. “You look like Marilyn Monroe,” ventured a neighborhood resident, speaking to a blonde lady in discussion with the deputy.

“I have been told, sometimes I am also told Marine Le Pen, it is less flattering.

“Oh well, she’s still beautiful…”

Rare are the inhabitants of the square to come and taste the barbecue. François Ruffin motivates his troops: “The principle of the campaign is joy, joy, joy!” Around him, a summary of the politico-cinematic universe that he has built over the course of his films. His substitute, Hayat Matboua, accompanying students with disabilities, appears in the last, Debout les femmes (directed with Gilles Perret, 2021). Home helpers are also there, sometimes from afar, students who recognize him as embodying a “rural left”, “rebellious”, communists and even “fakirs”, from his newspaper. In front of them, the outgoing deputy claims it almost as a pride: unlike Macronist but also Mélenchonized metropolises, “here, we don’t have the wind at our back but the wind in front”.

A well-prepared argument

It’s not easy to get Marine Le Pen’s electorate to vote left. The chosen one assumes “not to put on blinders”. In a Facebook post on May 31, he relayed the testimony of a resident exasperated by the noise under her windows. “It’s something that drives me crazy when it happens: home, not being home anymore,” she said. The phrase is reminiscent of others used by the RN, but Mr. Ruffin assures that there is no racist reading to be made. “It has nothing to do with it, it’s a neighborhood where there are plenty of French people who make a mess. I don’t want to discard the real, or put plugs in my ears,” he replies.

In the Somme, the words of the far right surface quickly. In May, the candidate for the presidential majority, Pascal Rifflart, declared himself “French of stock” in his profession of faith, before changing the wording in the face of the controversy triggered. To François Ruffin’s advantage, the center, the right and the extreme right are divided, with two candidates claiming to be Emmanuel Macron, a Reconquest candidate!, an RN candidate, a Les Républicains candidate and a sovereignist.

The activists have tidied up everything, his procession sets off, led by a truck adorned with a large red balloon: “They have the money, we have the people”. As he walks by, the windows open. Doors, even, and happy faces. François Ruffin, at the end of the procession, also stops the cars. A motorist declines the leaflet. “I vote Marine Le Pen, I have nothing against you, but I don’t know you, good luck. For the “thirty seconds of political moment” he has with passers-by, the deputy polished his pitch. “The prevailing feeling here is not rebellion, it’s dejection, resignation. I impose the confrontation between the bottom and the top, the poor and the rich, the employees and the shareholders, it is binary, but it is necessary that it is this reading which is essential so that it is not the French grid against foreigners who take the place. Cautious, even pessimistic, he refrains from any triumphalism but adds: “Normally, once we are on this, the choice is clear. »