A great winter sun falls on Marseilles and its last rays skim over the roof of the Vélodrome. In front of the Prado metro entrance, Nathalie Tessier and six of her comrades give voice and leaflets: “The meeting of Fabien Roussel, the communist candidate for the presidential election! The PCF candidate chose Marseille and Parc Chanot for his first major campaign meeting, where 5,000 people are expected on February 6.
It has been fifteen years since the PCF presented its own candidate in this election. It was in 2007, and Marie-George Buffet had collected just under 2% of the vote. In other words, an eternity, as the political landscape has changed. Ségolène Royal, the PS candidate, had gathered more than 25% of the votes in the first round, but failed in the second round against Nicolas Sarkozy. Three presidents later and two unsuccessful alliances with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Communists had had enough and went on their campaign alone. “It was starting to be enough. If we want to advance our ideas, we have to be visible, ”explains Nathalie Tessier, also elected delegate for women’s rights and the fight against violence against them at the central town hall. A line massively shared by members; 80% of them validated this choice at the previous congress.
“Create a balance of power in view of the legislative elections”
The start of Fabien Roussel’s campaign is likely to reinforce them in this perspective. “There is a certain pride in campaigning for our candidate and our ideas, it’s been a long time since we’ve done so,” says Régine. “It’s fun! “, continues one of his comrades. And if the previous unitary campaigns could also be “exciting”, the communist militants were “a little burnt”, adds Alain: “We could feel a little used and if, me, I am not the most burnt, some are really tough on our former allies. »
The former allies are precisely that day towing, too, at an exit from this metro stop. The objective for the Communists is to “create a balance of power in view of the legislative elections”, explains Nathalie Tessier: “We are going to propose to the other progressive forces to present only one candidate per constituency. And the sharing will be done according to the scores of the presidential election. That is unity! »
“I prefer when all the lefts are strong”
In the construction of this balance of power, the Communists find themselves, as in the time of Georges Marchais, neck and neck in the polls with the Socialists (3% of voting intentions each, according to different polls. L one of them having even placed Roussel ahead of Hidalgo). However, communist activists remain lucid, “we do not touch the summits either”, they observe. And they are not particularly happy with the electoral collapse of the PS, although they analyze the desertion of left-wing voters as a consequence of “right-wing policies” successively carried out by the left when it came to power. “I prefer when all the lefts are strong, launches Nathalie Tessier. Even leftists, the more the better! »
Rather than stealing votes from the other parties, “this candidacy is an opportunity for them to speak to those who no longer vote” and to allow people to “discover the thinking of the Communists: we talk about public tranquility, employment-training security, women’s rights, ISF…”, lists Nathalie Tessier, whose candidate is preparing to present “180 proposals”. “Fabien Roussel, people understand him when he speaks, because he says things simply,” she says. Words that allow him to progress slightly in the polls, but with the targeted electorates. “We are progressing by 15% among young people and 10% among workers, according to Ifop”
“Communists, there will always be some”
The leaflets are distributed at the rhythm of the arrivals of metro trains and buses from the nearby stop. Some stop talking. A group of young people ask for one more for their home. Still others, many, trace their path, and some replay the great hours of the Cold War. “God forbid,” shouts a man in a suit at their height. “Each time, there are some who are caricatural, laughs Nathalie. They tell us: “And what are you proposing, North Korea? Stalin?” Or: “But you still exist!” »
“Communists, there will always be some,” she concludes. When the Communist Party is strong, things are better for the inhabitants”, taking as examples the creation of Social Security or, less old, the fifth week of paid leave in 1981, both drawn up by Communist ministers. A time that those under forty cannot know. Fabien Roussel was then still in primary school.