“The RN is not inevitable”: the other reading of the municipal partial election in Pont-Saint-Esprit

“The RN is not inevitable”: the other reading of the municipal partial election in Pont-Saint-Esprit

The new mayor Gérome Bouvier (left) and his opponent RN. – J.-M. MART

The ballot in the 8th town of Gard revealed a surprise: the outsider Gérome Bouvier won in the first round, to the detriment of the outgoing town hall and especially an RN who was ambitious. A lesson for the next elections ?

Dura lex, sed lex. Such is political life, Claire Lapeyronie, who has nevertheless been mayor for six years, since 2018, leaves the History of Pont-Saint-Esprit through the back door. The municipal by-election that it indirectly imposed – by withdrawing their delegations from several of his deputies, which led to a series of resignations – place in 3rd and last place in the ballot with 14.84% of the votes.

"A real slap in the face", observes an actor in the local political game. Even the remote support of the regional president did nothing. Carole Delga, announced between the two rounds, will not have the opportunity to come and save her regional advisor who suffered whistles at the time of the counting which delivered a verdict as soon as the 1st round. Ms. Delga's reaction on Sunday evening, however, seemed to reflect a "phew" of relief. "With the new majority, the Region will continue its work in the service of the City and its inhabitants", she expressed .

"The personal equation"

And for good reason, if it had thus committed itself, it was because many saw in this partial municipal the risk that the National Rally would nibble away at new territory in the Gard. In Pont-Saint-Esprit, in 2022, the RN had achieved significant scores: 34.9% in the 1st round of the presidential election; 39.4% in the legislative elections. And the national dynamic, in the middle of the European campaign, was on its side. In an interview with Midi Libre, Carole Delga thus targeted "the’extreme right which never brings anything good" .

But the Lepéniste party ultimately did not succeed in its bet, having to be content with 34.55% of the votes. "This vote clearly shows that the RN is not inevitable, particularly in a local election where the personal equation still plays a role&amp ;quot;, analyzes the neighboring mayor of Bagnols-sur-Cèze. "In the end, they are like the others. When they are good, they can do something, when they are bad, they suffer", adds Jean-Yves Chapelet.

Almost unknown to the battalion

Bad, Emmanuel Le Pargneux ? In any case almost unknown to the battalion in Gard where he arrived at the age of 22, there… two years, to become parliamentary attaché to MP Meurin. The profile of Gérome Bouvier, neophyte in the polls but a good-looking Spiripontain at the head of a list presented as "civil society" &amp ;ndash; even if we have since learned of his commitment to Horizon – could only appeal to undecided voters who wanted to turn the Lapeyronie page. "It is obvious that even RN voters who wanted to express a disengagement turned to Bouvier whom they know better", adds our observer. This partly explains the new mayor's 1 937 votes, or 67 more than what was needed to advance to the first round.

"For us, it remains a victory". Yoann Gillet, departmental delegate of the RN, wants to see the glass half full. He concedes that his candidate "didn’not have the same notoriety as the others". "And yet, he does same number of votes as Marine Le Pen in the presidential election (a little less in fact, Editor's note). We go from 0 to 5 elected officials despite a very short campaign. We ran out of time but we will take advantage of the next two years to work on its implementation. A lesson to also remember for the choice of candidates in other cities ? "This has been our strategy since 2011. We have a lot of hope, among others in Vauvert, Bagnols-sur-Cèze, Pont-Saint-Esprit… And Nîmes of course", replies Yoann Gillet.

It's up to their adversaries to draw inspiration from Gérome Bouvier's success so as not to make it inevitable.

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