Are meetings gatherings like any other? While the government wants to apply gauges for large gatherings, excluding meetings, the question divides. Out of the question for Zemmour, Le Pen and Mélenchon, while the majority calls for a “spirit of responsibility”: the presidential candidates are divided on the application in their campaign meetings of the new anti-Covid gauges.
By announcing on Monday limitations for gatherings – 2,000 people maximum indoors and 5,000 outdoors – Prime Minister Jean Castex recalled that the French Constitution did not allow the setting of gauges, nor the imposition of a health pass, for political meetings and at places of worship.
“A fairly strong wave of protest”
This “raised, and I understand it, a fairly strong wave of protest”, agreed the Minister of Health Olivier Véran Wednesday in committee to the National Assembly. But, he added, “I repeat that there is no will of the government to do double standards.”
No big concerts but meetings that are sometimes just as full: the prospect has ulcerated the artists. Some have joked by declaring themselves candidates for the election in order to be able to maintain their “meetings”.
LREM wants to apply the gauges in its future meetings
Faced with the beginning of controversy, the presidential party LREM hastened to announce that it was going well, in a “spirit of responsibility”, to apply the gauges in its future meetings.
On Wednesday, Olivier Véran also declared himself “in favor”, but “with uncertainty about the legal aspect”, to an amendment by deputy LR Guillaume Larrivé giving the possibility to the organizers of large political gatherings to require a vaccination pass and to attach a gauge.
At the end of lively exchanges, the amendment was adopted in the evening, but without its part on the gauges, a consultation being in progress between the Minister of the Interior and the political formations.
“Nothing to change”
Several contenders for the Élysée do not intend to apply. “We are not going to change anything in our agenda for the next four months and we will hold meetings of all sizes,” explains Olivier Ubéda, national director of events for the far-right candidate Eric Zemmour (Reconquest!).
“The Constitutional Council was very clear on this: compulsory mask and recommended health pass. (…) Then, each candidate does as he wants, ”he recalls.
“The more people there are, the better” on the electoral level adds Olivier Ubéda who underlines that “not a cluster was detected following the Villepinte meeting” which had gathered 13,000 people on December 5.
“The question does not arise”
The National Rally will follow this line by refusing government gauges. “The question does not arise”, evacuated Wednesday on Europe 1 the deputy and spokesperson for RN Sébastien Chenu.
“This does not prevent taking a number of measures” such as barrier gestures or social distancing, he nevertheless specified while Marine Le Pen must officially launch her campaign on January 15 and 16 with a “presidential convention ” at Reims.
“It would be problematic to establish a gauge” for the meetings of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, abounded on RMC the LFI deputy Éric Coquerel, announcing that the rebellious candidate, who is to hold a meeting on January 16 at the Beaujoire expo park in Nantes, would not apply the government’s “liberticidal measures”.
Finding “the right balance”
On the right, Valérie Pécresse wishes to find “the right balance between democratic requirements and health constraints”, indicates Geoffroy Didier, communications director for candidate LR.
On December 11, a few days after her investiture, Valérie Pécresse had canceled a large public meeting at the Porte de Versailles in favor of a more modest gathering, bringing together only the executives of the Republicans at the Mutualité, in Paris.
“We have always respected the sanitary rules and will continue to do so”, adds Geoffroy Didier while recalling however that “the crisis should not put the debate under cover during the presidential election”.
A position also held by Anne Hidalgo. The PS candidate, who was already asking for the health pass in her previous meetings, will follow “the recommendations of the government” and await “the evolution of the pandemic”, according to a close source.
For their part, environmentalists claim to have planned “smaller events, outdoors, rather in reduced gauges or in digital formats”, explained Wednesday on RTL Marine Tondelier, spokesperson for EELV candidate Yannick Jadot.
The “envisaged” candidate Christiane Taubira finally wants to be “irreproachable”, according to a source close to AFP, excluding holding public meetings indoors before at least “mid-January”.