Thirty-three years old, and already “the designated heiress” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, according to a heavyweight of the macronie. Mathilde Panot has just been re-elected patron saint of LFI deputies, at a time when the rebellious are going from 17 to more than 75. From their first group meeting, her peers have acclaimed this daughter of teachers with a dazzling trajectory, still a manager team member of the Voisin Malin association in Grigny, Essonne, in 2016. Poached by the former right-hand man of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Delapierre, the Sciences Po graduate close to the Left Front then joined the campaign of the rebellious for the 2017 presidential election.
Coordinator of support groups and initiator of caravans for equal rights, Mathilde Panot had continued with her own campaign, winning the 10th constituency of Val-de-Marne in front of an LREM candidate. After five years in office, here she is “well capped”, according to Alexis Corbière. “Nothing scares her”, even dubs Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who boasts of her qualities as an activist and organizer to anyone who will listen.
“Thunderous” but force of proposal
The young woman embodied the LFI group well for five, multiplying speeches in the hemicycle and outbursts, even to annoy. She “is in systematic criticism, each time she speaks and whatever the subject”, deplores the deputy LREM Sophie Panonacle, who rubbed shoulders with her in the sustainable development committee. “She is often in exaggeration,” breathes Barbara Pompili. But the rebellious also commands admiration beyond those close to her.
“She is really invested in the files”, in particular on water or nuclear power, recognizes the former Minister for Ecological Transition. For Marc Le Fur, outgoing LR vice-president of the Assembly, “Mathilde Panot was more urban at the end than at the start” and “we can discuss with her”. “We often remember her thundering personality but it’s not an incantation: she is experienced, works a lot, provides a lot of proposals”, greets the communist Stéphane Peu.
A new challenge
She had also received a lot of support in February 2021, after the LREM Pierre Henriet treated her in a night session as a “fishmonger”. In addition to boos, he had received a financial penalty. “Our institution must not let this pass. There is far too much sexism in the National Assembly,” she judged.
At the head of the LFI deputies since October 2021, when Jean-Luc Mélenchon had passed the torch to her to prepare his presidential campaign, Mathilde Panot is unanimous: “a very creative woman who works a lot” according to Sarah Legrain, with ” grip and human management” for Danièle Obono. It is on this point that a new challenge presents itself to her: having to manage egos and integrate newcomers.
She will have to “make a connection” given that the rebellious are “only fighters with volcanic characters”, advises her colleague Alexis Corbière. Some macronists are already hoping for leadership disputes at LFI, between her, Raquel Garrido and even François Ruffin, for example. “It will not be a phalanstery, it will shake,” anticipates a minister. “I imagine they dream about it. But we are a group, not a sum of individuals. We had the opportunity to show it with what we did at 17 during the previous five-year term, ”she replies, with determination.