Emmanuel Macron promoted the most influential relays within the government during his first five-year term. He unreservedly accepted the support of his main figures during the presidential campaign. It left doubt for several months about the investiture of a dozen of its members under the banner Together! in the legislative elections. The Republican Spring and its ideological allies hoped to see their loyalty rewarded. Their hopes were dashed. By denying them the constituencies to which they claimed and the positions to which they aspired in the new government team, the Head of State inflicted a snub on them.

Between Mr. Macron and the political movement founded in 2016, supporter of a so-called “combat” secularism, chaired by Amine El Khatmi and co-founded by Gilles Clavreul, is the break consummated? Is this the sign of a reversal of the President of the Republic on the question?

Within Renaissance (ex-La République en Marche, LRM), the subject has been divided since the first steps of the Macronist party. Between the defense of a “hard” secularism – carried mainly by the former Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer, champion of the fight against “wokism” and “Islamo-leftism”, Marlène Schiappa, former minister delegate in charge of citizenship, and the minister of the interior, Gérald Darmanin – and that of a so-called “liberal” secularism – embodied by the ex-socialists Richard Ferrand and Christophe Castaner, the president of the National Assembly and the leader of the LRM deputies, and which many say is shared by the president “in his heart” -, Macronie has never decided. Neither Emmanuel Macron, who let the two lines exist while encouraging supporters of the first. At least until the nominations for the legislative elections and the appointments of the government of Elisabeth Borne.

“Thought Police”

The Republican Spring and those close to it firmly believed in their coronation. Sure of themselves. Too sure of themselves, perhaps. For several years, they have been infusing their ideas within public institutions, gaining influence, placing their supporters in ministerial cabinets. “They had ended up exercising a real thought police”, denounces a connoisseur of the subject. Testimony of the tensions which persist on the question, the man prefers to remain anonymous. Like others, he wants to save himself “again from being the target of the Republican Spring social media bombardment.”

Strengthened by their support for Emmanuel Macron, they worked behind the scenes for the investiture of their members. “They were everywhere, in all the party meetings, demanding constituencies, measures, speeches from the president, constantly asking that he speak out officially against the wearing of the veil in public space” , says Lova Rinel, spokesperson for the Pluriel collective, close to the Head of State, ex-president of the Representative Council of Black Associations and candidate Together! (Renaissance) in the 4th district of Seine-Saint-Denis.

To the point of exceeding many “walkers” and, above all, of “breaking the feet” of Emmanuel Macron. For the executives of the majority in the maneuver in the distribution of constituencies, the aspiration to the deputation of some of the members of the Republican Spring was above all perceived as a major risk. It is difficult to manage a parliamentary group with these profiles sometimes deemed uncontrollable and with particularly divisive positions. To the great regret of LRM deputy from Creuse Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who had been pushing for months for the candidacy of his “great friend”, the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui.

The activist with very strong positions on Islam had shown her support for Mr. Macron on January 15 in a message on Twitter. A surprise for his supporters, some of whom considered him closer to the far right. “[Emmanuel Macron] is of all the presidents of the French Republic the one who has pushed the lines of the dialectic the furthest”, she declared on LCI the same day, referring to the law on separatism and the struggle against radical Islamism. The beginning of a media campaign where the activist seeks to impose her name.

End of the game, May 9, on Franceinfo: “At no time was his candidacy considered”, then assures Christophe Castaner. The hostility of the relays and other LRM activists in the tenth constituency of French people living abroad (Middle East) then the ninth (Maghreb and West Africa), where Ms. El Rhazoui hoped to land, got the better of her political ambitions.

” We are available “

Amine El Khatmi (whose name was mentioned to face the former “walker” Aurélien Taché in the Val-d’Oise), Gilles Clavreul (prospective in the Gers) or the writer Rachel Khan have known the same fate. François Bayrou, the president of the MoDem, had however pleaded the cause of the latter with Emmanuel Macron, hoping to make her one of the new faces of the centrist party in government.

The non-renewal of Marlène Schiappa, Sarah El Haïry (former Secretary of State for Youth) and Frédérique Vidal (former Minister of Higher Education), also spokespersons for the “offensive” secular cause, as well as the replacement of Jean-Michel Blanquer in education by the historian Pap Ndiaye, specialist in the black minority, are, for some, the sign of a disavowal of the head of state. Not for Mr. Clavreul: “I know very well that Mr. Ndiaye does not belong to the decolonial movement, nothing justifies the attacks from the far right to which he is subject, we will judge him by his actions. In the meantime, we have not received any signals of eviction or change of course. »

The candidacies of Mr. Blanquer in the Loiret, of the former Prime Minister Manuel Valls among the French in Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Monaco, of Marika Bret, ex-HRD of Charlie Hebdo, in Toul ( Meurthe-et-Moselle) or Astrid Panosyan-Bouvet, co-founder of En Marche! and widow of Laurent Bouvet, the founder of the Republican Spring, are not enough to hide the affront. Nor the maintenance of a few outgoing deputies, affiliates of the movement: “walkers” like François Cormier-Bouligeon in the Cher, Jean-Baptiste Moreau in the Creuse or Aurore Bergé, who is standing in the Yvelines but did not obtain a post to the government, despite the rumours.

The intellectual Raphaël Enthoven, close to the movement, expressed his annoyance on Twitter on May 21: “Like a caterpillar that refuses to mutate into a butterfly, ‘macronism’ has ostensibly turned its back on all those who, without sparing their loyalty, wanted to give him a backbone. “It was the first time that we called to vote for a candidate”, recalls Mr. Clavreul, who does not hide his “disappointment”. “But we keep saying we’re available. Pending a possible reshuffle, after the legislative elections.

“President’s Ambiguity”

“For us, the question is finally decided,” rejoices Lova Rinel. We will perhaps finally be able to hold real discussions on the subject within the party and build a coherent line. But the setbacks of one side do not necessarily mean the victory of the other. Some observers speak of the period as a “suspended time”, an “in-between” which has still not made it possible to lift the veil on “the ambiguity of the ambitions of the President of the Republic in terms of secularism , inequality, racism and discrimination”.

“Emmanuel Macron sees that there is a demand for firmness in the face of Islamism: he keeps Gérald Darmanin. There is also a demand for a more open line on the issue of minorities: he appoints Pap Ndiaye ”, analyzes the essayist Hakim El Karoui, author, in 2018, of Islam, a French religion (Gallimard). “I think he has his line elsewhere. But he won’t force it. He will let the other two coexist and will arbitrate according to the circumstances. »

In reaction to the appointment of Pap Ndiaye, figures of the majority, such as former minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement or MoDem deputy Jean-Louis Bourlanges, publicly warned Emmanuel Macron about this “at the same time”. “The debate that has been established with 140 signs [sur Twitter] between universalists and differentialists is still very, very Manichean, breathes Anne-Christine Lang, MP for Paris and close to Jean-Michel Blanquer. Why should we have to choose between universalism and the fight against racism and discrimination? »