Protect local elected officials from attacks
MP for Savoie, president of the MoDem group in the National Assembly
We must return to the initial role of these signatures, which is to ensure that all currents of thought are represented in the presidential election. We should also try to stop calling it “sponsorship”, a term which implies that it would be support.
Our democracy is not doing well. We quickly forgot the abnormally high abstention levels of the last municipal and regional elections. Today there is also an atmosphere that adds to this fragility. In an opinion with epidermal, sometimes conspiratorial reactions, the non-qualification of Éric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon – whose ideas we are fighting – would be interpreted as a desire by the “system” to prevent debate. We start from a simple principle: extremes can only be fought by election, not by selection.
Admittedly, since 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen opened this debate for the first time, the suspense of sponsorships has become an imposed figure for certain candidates. But this year there is a particular situation with a double candidacy on the far right and the far left, which presents a risk. There is no electoral calculation behind our initiative. Moreover, we did not wait for the MoDem to multiply the applications!
The idea of a “sponsorship pool” is not to coerce elected officials, but rather to protect them from attack. Many mayors consider, like us, that it would be abnormal if Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon were not qualified. But if they sponsor them, they fear that this will be reproached to them by their constituents. The reality today is that a mayor who sponsors a far-right candidate, even without sharing his ideas, can be attacked by a far-left activist, and vice versa.
In this eruptive society, local elected officials often have a very great reserve, even a mistrust vis-à-vis sponsorships. Moreover, many mayors elected on unlabeled lists consider that they should not take any position of partisan politics. I find it healthy at the municipal level, but it should not lead to a serious accident at the presidential level. By taking an initiative at the national level, we want to allow elected officials to be part of a framework that will prevent them from being attacked.
Beyond that, it’s probably the whole sponsorship system that should be called into question. It is of course necessary to maintain a qualification system to avoid having a thousand candidates. But we could imagine citizen sponsorships, with for example a threshold of 400,000 signatures. Or even broaden the base of elected officials to municipal councillors. In any case, this shows that the revision of our institutions, abandoned in 2018, must be put back on the table.
Collected by Gauthier Vaillant
The mistrust of rural elected officials is permanent
Mayor of Voivres (Vosges) and President of the Association of Rural Mayors of France (AMRF)
It is a surprise to see this device offered so close to the presidential election. But on the merits, it is not surprising to have to go through it. And we will be forced to do so as long as the very nature of “sponsorship” is not definitively decided. Signature of adhesion to a project, to a camp? Or an apolitical but “democratic” gesture allowing a fairer representation of opinions? Before each election, we call for a reflection to clarify this presidential qualification system. But we are stuck in an in-between.
The “democratic” vocation of the elected reserve envisaged by the MoDem is commendable. But on the ground, and since the collection before this election, most of the sponsorships given are real support for the godchildren candidates. If the objective is to avoid any partisan drift, the solution is simple: put an end to the advertising of sponsorships, which has been widespread since the 2017 presidential election. Without this, the famous “democratic” value is impossible.
It is not for nothing that only 30% of mayors give their signature. The distrust of rural elected officials is permanent on the subject: everyone can cite the example of a file a little bogged down after a sponsorship or of an angry citizen on learning the name of the candidate helped. Something to think about when there is no interest to be drawn from sponsorship. Candidates in difficulty in the collection are sometimes the first to maintain the vagueness on the real nature of the signatures. Many come to see us saying that it does not commit us to anything, but at the same time relay (on social networks) the clearly political sponsorships given by their relatives or party members. That the labeled elected officials give the example and sponsor the candidate of another family if this signature is really “democratic”!
But this alert at the approach of the deadline also says a lot about the link between certain political leaders and rural elected officials, beyond the sponsorship procedure. We still have the impression of playing the firefighters on duty. Like the “yellow vests”, when we were asked to raise concerns on the ground. If candidates have so much difficulty finding sponsorship, it is also because they do not care enough about our daily lives. And only contact us in an emergency. Security or immigration: these are not really our everyday concerns. And purchasing power? Fortunately, there was the increase in prices at the pump to talk about it. What about the cost of building materials? Without the Covid-19, it wouldn’t even be debated. That’s what we want to hear about.
Collected by Corentin Lesueur