Will the 2022 presidential election succeed in emancipating itself from the coronavirus? Due to the epidemic, the campaign is already unlike any other: canceled meetings, politicians tested positive, monopolization of the debate … Three months before the first round, the Covid-19 continues to spoil the party. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex set up a forum for dialogue to try to reassure the candidates about the unfolding of the weeks to come. But beyond the technical aspect, another fear remains: the prospect of an anesthetized campaign, where the epidemic would never cease to dictate its agenda.
“A 100% Covid campaign would be dramatic for the country”
The primary environmentalist, the emergence of Eric Zemmour and then the LR congress animated this start of the campaign, but the epidemic resumption linked to the Omicron variant now seems to sweep away all other themes. “The campaign is currently swallowed up by the Covid-19, it prevents other themes from emerging. We regularly test the subjects of conversation of the French. In our poll on Tuesday, we see that the top five subjects are linked to the epidemic, ”confirms Frédéric Dabi, general manager opinion of Ifop.
“At the moment, it is difficult to be audible on anything other than sanitary. On the sets, I am told that people only want to hear about it… ”, regrets Sébastien Chenu, RN deputy and spokesperson for Marine Le Pen. “But a 100% Covid campaign would be dramatic for the country. People would feel like they had the election stolen. “
The candidates are all the more worried that during the last presidential election, the affairs of François Fillon had already polluted the campaign. “The 2017 election was confiscated by the judicial agenda, that of 2022 should not be confiscated by the health agenda. During her travels, Valérie Pécresse tries to impose her subjects, on security in particular, but it is more difficult because Emmanuel Macron seeks to make the Covid the only campaign theme “, target Guilhem Carayon, spokesperson for the candidate LR.
“When there are 300,000 cases a day, isn’t it worth talking about?” “
In the opposition, the Head of State is accused of taking advantage of the health crisis, in particular by posing the debate very clearly on the establishment of the vaccination pass. “Emmanuel Macron instrumentalizes the epidemic. By saying that he “pisses off” the unvaccinated, he wants to impose this subject and a deadly cleavage on us, denounces Antoine Diers, deputy director of Eric Zemmour’s campaign strategy. But the election cannot be held hostage by the government over the health crisis. It is urgent to move on to other subjects: security, immigration, education, rurality… ”
“The debates on the health crisis and the lessons that the country must learn from it are legitimate. But the pandemic does not erase other disasters the country is facing, such as global warming. It is not the pandemic that obscures the other issues but the will of a certain number of political forces, including the president, to avoid talking about the climate, ”sighs Delphine Batho, spokesperson for environmentalist Yannick Jadot.
Critics swept aside by the macronists. “When there are 300,000 cases a day, isn’t it worth talking about?” When the tests cost the taxpayer $ 1 billion in December, isn’t it worth talking about? Who disorganizes the school, the public services, the hospital, if not the epidemic and the unvaccinated? », Asks François Patriat, patron of LREM senators. “The oppositions are still suffering from an acute macronitis because they have, in reality, no idea to advance”.
On health, Emmanuel Macron seems untouchable
So, to develop their own themes, the candidates organize themselves, multiplying thematic trips in the field. Jean-Luc Mélenchon will hold an “immersive and olfactory” meeting next Sunday to capture the interest of the French and the media. “We take all the more care in the way we convey our ideas, and technology is an original form,” says Alexis Corbière, deputy and spokesperson for the rebellious candidate. We must overcome the prevailing demoralization. If the epidemic is the subject of conversation of the French, it is up to us to politicize it, to draw lessons from it, on the state of hospitals or on the collapse of public services ”.
But on the health issue, the president seems untouchable for the moment. According to an Ifop poll published on Sunday, 57% of French people believe that no other candidate would do better than Emmanuel Macron in the fight against the epidemic. While the opposition urges the head of state to be officially a candidate, Sébastien Chenu is not impatient. “Macron has every interest in the Covid dominating the countryside, because it is currently benefiting from a halo phenomenon. But when the debate returns to everyday subjects, it will then be in difficulty ”.