Arrival at the garage sale organized by the Morangis youth and culture center (Essonne), Sunday May 29, in the middle of the morning, Amélie de Montchalin begins the tour of the stands. There are about fifty of them, offering, on improvised stalls, old toys, trinkets that have grown tired or old-fashioned clothes. The minister and candidate La République en Marche (LRM) did not go 20 meters before she fell on an angry pensioner. “I earn 1,000 euros per month. I can’t live,” Albert blurts out. “That’s why we want to raise the minimum,” replies the legislative candidate. “You won’t,” the man cuts in annoyedly. Like all those who are today at the head [of the country]. They haven’t done anything for years. »

“The head”, Madame de Montchalin is one of them. Elected deputy in the 6th district of Essonne in 2017 with 61.34% of the vote, appointed minister in 2019, she has just been promoted to fifth place in the government of Elisabeth Borne. To take care, moreover, of a crucial file: the ecological transition. Undaunted by Albert’s anger, she reminds him that his pension will be increased by 4% in July. “You will see the difference,” she smiles.

“Forty euros a month?” the retiree chokes. Doesn’t even pay for my gas… Are you happy with 40 euros a month?

– I’m not happy, retorts Amélie de Montchalin, who ensures that the minimum will then be increased to 1,100 euros.

“I don’t believe you,” Albert cuts in, turning on his heels.

“Rooted in a territory”

The end of the month and the end of the world. In this legislative campaign, the Minister for Ecological Transition is balancing on a ridge line. The stakes are decisive for her: Ms. de Montchalin is one of the 15 ministers (out of 28) who play at double or quits their appointment to the government. Those who lose June 12 or 19 will have to resign.

Some voters sympathize, moreover, welcoming the candidate with warmth. A passer-by crossed a little later in the bays of the Chilly-Mazarin market is worried about her: “If you lose, you will no longer be a minister, it’s rough,” he complains, before leaving. sure of his vote. Amélie de Montchalin thanks him: “If I am in government, it is because I have been a good deputy. And if I have been a good deputy, it is thanks to your confidence. »

Being “rooted in a territory” is his credo. Because it makes it possible to maintain “the link between the national project and local life” and that “the role of a deputy is to make a lift”, she confides. On her campaign leaflet, she listed “six battles” for Essonne, which are all priorities for the government: among others, purchasing power, health, ecology and security. Strolling through the garage sales of Morangis, she adapts to the concerns of onlookers.

For Hélène Cossart, it’s safety. This 75-year-old lady takes care of funerals at the parish when there is no priest. And his fear is to see an Islamist appear in the church. She remembers, still moved, a day when she saw, in the middle of a funeral ceremony, the door open and a man enter. “Well, it’s someone who arrived very late,” she says. This is inappropriate. But, what do you want, mercy on all sins… In the meantime, I was afraid. I was at the altar and I wasn’t really into what I was doing anymore. Amélie de Montchalin reassures her: “Look at my leaflet,” she says. We will have 140 more police officers in the department. »

The constituency is “a very heterogeneous territory, like a little France, to which I am very attached humanly”, assures the candidate, who descends, through her mother, from a peasant family in the area. From the agricultural areas in the north to the campus of the prestigious Paris-Saclay University in the west, passing through the working-class neighborhoods in the east, “we have the concerns of an entire country which are concentrated in a very small area says Ms. de Montchalin.

“Sanctioning a Minister”

She claims “a grassroots campaign”. “My election, I play it on loyalty to the territory, she confides. I’ve been fighting for five years: installing a new stop on the [future] line 18 [of the metro] in Palaiseau, creating a station in Morangis, the public hospital in Saclay…” She concedes: “When you are a minister , you don’t have the same bond, you don’t spend your time in associations. But I kept a strong bond with the elected officials. »

An angle of attack of choice for his opponents. “She was a minister for three years,” recalls Jérôme Guedj, who represents the New People’s Ecological and Social Union. She did not plow the constituency or forge ties with the population. The socialist candidate prefers to be ironic about his “record as a deputy”, since Amélie de Montchalin played a role in the abolition of the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF) and the reduction of personalized housing assistance (APL) .

If this historically left-wing constituency is gradually shifting to the right, Jérôme Guedj is confident. Jean-Luc Mélenchon came out on top in the first round of the presidential election, with 30.72% of the vote, beating Emmanuel Macron at the post (29.86%), far ahead of Marine Le Pen (13.56%). And the left-wing candidates gathered 41.5% of the vote. Mr. Guedj claims to see “a go, an enthusiasm of the voters”. “The challenge, he underlines, is to sanction a minister who totally embodies Macronism: the ISF, the APL, the dismantling of public services, consulting firms…”

Ms. de Montchalin and Mr. Guedj settled into a face-to-face. “I see them attacking, testifies the candidate Les Républicains (LR), Chantal Lacarrière. But I am the only local candidate, known in the field, that we see in the associations. This is not the case of Jérôme Guedj, who left and returned, nor of Amélie de Montchalin, who left after two years as minister and who will leave after the election. It makes a big difference between the three of us. »

Sunday, crossing an LR activist on the Chilly-Mazarin market, the LRM candidate slipped to him: “I will need you in the second round. Every voice counts. But Jacques Bernier retorted: “I will not vote for Emmanuel Macron. The volunteer does not forgive him for the “shameful way” with which the chief of staff, General Pierre de Villiers, was “fired” in 2017. “She asked me the question too, confides Chantal Lacarrière. It’s not fair play or polite. The LRs do not want to form an alliance in the second round. That’s enough, now is not the time… I don’t concern myself with Mr. Guedj or Mrs. de Montchalin. »