It is a victory for France Insoumise. The deputy of Seine-Saint-Denis Eric Coquerel was elected Thursday to the key post of chairman of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly. He is a tireless defender of “working-class neighborhoods” and one of the promoters alongside Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the fight against Islamophobia.
In recent days, it is rather the prospect that he chairs the powerful Finance Committee that has worried Macronie, the right and the RN. Even if he assures with a smile that he had “16/20 in the baccalaureate on the turn of the rigor of Mauroy”, Eric Coquerel could not claim such a convincing pedigree on the economy as the former head of deputies PS Valérie Rabault. She wanted to introduce herself before surrendering to the logic of intra-Nupe power relations.
“Someone who has worked on his files”
Technically, “it is no offense to Eric Coquerel to say that she had a more important skill”, underlines the socialist deputy Christine Pires-Beaune. However, the one who was the neighbor of Eric Coquerel in committee during the previous legislature testifies: “He was very present, very diligent, this is not the case for everyone. He is someone who has worked on his files.
Through his availability to journalists, he has established himself over the past ten years as one of the most media-focused melenchonists. But it is also omnipresent in demonstrations, pickets, student struggles or in neighborhoods. “He is an action deputy, he likes to participate in social movements”, reports Pascal Troadec, deputy mayor of Grigny (Val-de-Marne) and one of the organizers at LFI of militant collectives in the cities.
“I appreciate his availability and his commitment, that’s how we recognize an elected official, because these are not always winning battles,” he euphemizes. Eric Coquerel in particular organized in November 2018 in Epinay (Seine-Saint-Denis) the first “Meetings of working-class neighborhoods”. Beyond all the social and territorial issues then addressed, the event remains one of the symbols of the evolution of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and LFI on the veil.
“I was one of the players in the change of period, considering that with the development of racism against Muslims in the country, they had to be protected”, confides Eric Coquerel.
The veil, “a cultural and religious display”
He explains: “Like all the elected officials of Seine-Saint-Denis, it is less me who has changed than the period: we have had to note that for almost all veiled women, it is more a cultural and religious display. than a submission. Whereas before the veil was seen more as a sign of fundamentalism in our country”.
François Cocq, former national speaker of LFI, who holds Eric Coquerel for his “godfather in politics”, is circumspect on this subject: “This line, they carried it instantly. I do not mind that being elected from Saint-Ouen gives him a revelation, but they have above all looked at their electoral interests to keep their constituencies.
“The social elevator”
He says: “Coquerel was one, after 2017, of those who theorized the 600,000 votes missing in the election of Jean-Luc Mélenchon” and therefore, the need to amplify the conquest of working-class neighborhoods. But François Cocq retains “a lot of affection” for the deputy, who “humanly mismatches LFI” and “is one of the only ones who dares to say things to Mélenchon”.
Eric Coquerel was born on December 30, 1958 in Courbevoie to a mother who worked in an office, and a father who took advantage of the “social elevator” to go from holder of a CAP to speech therapist. He passes and misses the baccalaureate for the first time at 19 and must quickly chain odd jobs to conquer his financial autonomy. He was also a programmer analyst for a few years, before passing and failing the History Capes.
History, sea and militancy
A specialist in maritime discoveries in history, he was passionate about organizing sailing races, and founded a prosperous company, “Effects sea”. He must give up his shares when he emerges in the media: “It’s complicated to get sponsors when we campaigned against the banks,” he laughs.
Because Eric Coquerel has never ceased to be an activist, from the high school struggle to the leadership of the Left Party, through his membership of the LCR, the MRC of Jean-Pierre Chevènement and then the creation of the “Mars” movement.