“We united to beat Macron”: in the 20th district of the North, the communist Fabien Roussel campaigns on behalf of the left alliance but barely quotes Jean-Luc Mélenchon and has to face a dissident supported by rebels local.

“This great union is historic enough for us to go and vote”, “it’s a huge thing, it’s been 25 years since it happened”. In shirt sleeves, the national secretary of the PCF, outgoing deputy and unsuccessful candidate (2.28%) for the presidential election goes door-to-door in the settlements of Bruay-sur-l’Escaut.

Before each threshold, he assures that despite the re-election of Emmanuel Macron, “it is still possible”. With the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), “we can make up for it, we can take revenge”, by tilting the National Assembly to the left.

Smic at 1,500 euros, retirement at 60, allowance for students chant the argument of the candidate, “on the side of the workers”.

The Ascoval factory in Saint-Saulve hums on the other side of the Scheldt. In this constituency where a fraction of the mining basin coexists with more rural territories, Fabien Roussel walks in the footsteps of Alain Bocquet, communist deputy for nearly 40 years and still mayor of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.

He claims to benefit from “sympathy capital” and “good feedback” on his presidential campaign, despite a score “difficult to swallow”.

“The presidential election allowed us to display our differences. The useful vote benefited one of us four”, he adds, without naming Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with whom he keeps his distance.

On its lands, the National Rally reached new heights. In Bruay, Marine Le Pen exceeded 64% in the second round of the presidential election.

“For me to be elected, I have to convince part of this electorate”, sums up Fabien Roussel, considering that his continuation in the second round is not certain. “My main adversary in this election is abstention”.

If he had been widely elected (63.88%) in 2017 against the FN, his far-right rival had followed him in the first round, ahead of En Marche.

As in 2017, he will also have to reckon with the candidacy of former communist Eric Renaud, supported this time by some local LFI activists, and PRG and LO candidates, while LREM should benefit from the absence of LR.

Invested by LFI before the agreement between rebels, socialists, ecologists and communists, Eric Renaud assures that “Roussel does not want to hear about Mélenchon, we feel that (this alliance) is not at all sincere”.

“He hits us throughout the presidential election, he takes a beating and then he shouts at the rally”, protests David Richer, LFI candidate in this constituency in 2017 and now support of Eric Renaud.

“One thing is very simple, we have a national agreement, which is called Nupes and therefore only candidates who can claim this label are supported by us”, sweeps Adrien Quatennens, coordinator of LFI and also deputy of the North.

For the presidential election, “I was with the strongest, Mélenchon, it makes sense”, explains to AFP Riad, 41, arrested in the street by the candidate. In the legislative elections, he will vote for Roussel, without hesitation, even if this great alliance on the left, “it should have been done before”, believes this bus driver.

“This alliance is good, otherwise we were dead”, salutes for her part Sylviane Quiez, retired who voted “Borloo” in the past but voted communist “since Fabien”.

She came to attend the public meeting hosted in the evening in Raismes by the leader of the PCF, who spoke there about purchasing power, relocations, teachers’ salaries, medical deserts.

But for RN candidate Guillaume Florquin, 29, many left-wing voters voted “in both rounds of the presidential election for Marine Le Pen” and many were also “disappointed by Fabien Roussel’s repeated calls to vote Emmanuel Macron “in the second round.

“There is a real possibility” for the RN in this constituency, he wants to believe.

04/06/2022 13:57:23 – Bruay-sur-l’Escaut (France) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP