Two small kilometers. This Wednesday, June 8, this is what separated the two meetings organized at the same time by the great rivals of the legislative elections in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Place de la Réunion, Danielle Simonnet, recognizable from afar in her red jacket, held a “popular party” surrounded by figures from her party, La France insoumise (LFI), environmentalists like Sandrine Rousseau, communists and Trotskyists. Fifteen minutes away, his competitor Lamia El Aaraje gathered his socialist friends in the Ferber recording studio, a place kept confidential until the last moment for fear of possible disruptors. Front row: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Two lefts, two atmospheres. In the 15th district of Paris, which covers a large part of the 20th arrondissement, the union has experienced a serious failure. So much so that the inhabitants will have the choice, on June 12, between two candidates who both claim to be “fiercely favorable” to the rally of the left… but oppose head-on. The only elected LFI of the Council of Paris, Danielle Simonnet was invested by the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes). Member of the constituency for eight months, before her election was canceled, the socialist Lamia El Aaraje believes that the nomination should have gone to her and decided to run, despite everything. Unique case in France, it obtained the official support of the Socialist Party (PS), yet a stakeholder in Nupes.
In this district of eastern Paris, the first round will therefore constitute a kind of primary of the left, with a representative of Nupes and a pure sugar socialist, not to mention ten other candidates. In the first round of the presidential election, the left gathered 61.6% of the votes in this popular and bobo constituency. Little chance, therefore, that this little piece of the capital escapes the left. But which left? The whole point is there.
The Corbyn controversy
Danielle Simonnet starts as favorite. Faithful to Mélenchon, she has with Nupes the most buoyant label in this district which, on April 10, voted 47.2% for the leader of LFI. What’s more, she knows the borough perfectly, where she has accompanied all social struggles for years and transforms everyday problems into political subjects, such as the cockroaches that swarm in certain HLMs.
By dint of campaigns and political shows, she also knows how to speak loudly. You just have to see her in the dreaded door-to-door exercise. That Friday, she entered a fast food restaurant on rue d’Avron and shouted out loud: “Above all, don’t forget the legislative elections!” On June 12 and 19, Macron was locked up at the Elysee Palace and Mélenchon was taken to Matignon. And that changes everything…” A client asks him: “Do you really think Macron is going to appoint him? And here she is summarizing the Constitution and transforming the restaurant into a general assembly for two minutes, like when she was in college.
On the spot, the reception is rather positive. “This time it will be the right one,” promises a butcher. “I don’t have the right to vote, but my children, sure and certain, they will put your ballot in the ballot box”, certifies the customer of a hairdresser. Others remain more reluctant. “Mélenchon, he’s an anti-Semite, I can’t blame him,” attacks the shoe salesman. “If you find a single anti-Semitic word from him, show it to me,” replies Danielle Simonnet. A sensitive subject in a neighborhood that has many Jews.
The controversy has swelled since, on Saturday, the LFI candidate and her colleague Danièle Obono appeared with Jeremy Corbyn, the ex-boss of the British Labor Party, excluded from his parliamentary group for laxity in the face of anti-Semitism. Candidate’s response: “Corbyn was the victim of a rough manipulation because he played the left wing. Labor had to apologize and reinstate him. There are enough real anti-Semites to fight not to invent new ones. »
Same social program
Posing with Corbyn? ” A shame ! Lamia El Aaraje did not miss the opportunity to criticize her number one competitor. Since her election was canceled on January 28 due to the presence of an impostor among the candidates, the socialist has been determined to regain her seat. Even if Jean-Luc Mélenchon blocked his investiture by the Nupes. “I hesitated, because it’s not a walk in the park, but I thought of my children,” she says. What was I going to tell them, ten years from now? That I had given up, in the face of such glaring injustice? The PS followed her.
Beyond this episode, Danielle Simonnet and Lamia El Aaraje carry two visions of the left. Both come from the PS. But one judged him too soft and left him, the other flattered himself that he remained “faithful to the house of Blum and Jaurès”. One embodies the leftist opposition to Anne Hidalgo, the other supports the mayor of Paris against all odds. One invokes Mélenchon, the other Lionel Jospin and Bernard Cazeneuve. In social matters, their program is the same. But “on secularism, living together, Europe, no, we do not agree”, notes Lamia El Aaraje.
By making her difference heard with force, the ex-MP hopes to find herself in the second round. Nothing taken for granted, however, given the poor recent scores of the PS and the desire for unity expressed by left-wing voters. In addition, the socialist must count, unlike the previous time, with the presence of a macronist candidate, Mohamad Gassama. A former socialist, too. “Here, Emmanuel Macron obtained almost 25% in the first round of the presidential election, he underlines. We therefore start with a solid base. His campaign to appear in the second round is however complicated by the existence of a candidate, Philippe Aragon, who claims to represent the “citizen and presidential majority”. “An impostor”, slice Mohamad Gassama, alone invested by La République en Marche.
The classic right, for its part, is struggling in this constituency where Valérie Pécresse won 3% of the vote in May. A few weeks ago, the candidate Les Républicains, François-Marie Didier, feared not to pass the 5% mark, therefore not to be reimbursed for his expenses. “With the division of the left and the controversy over crack that the Town Hall has managed very badly”, he now shows the hope of reaching the second round.