The results of the outgoing deputy LREM of the 9th district of Hérault Patrick Vignal, seen by his opponent of the National Rally, Frédéric Bort? “Close to zero”. “Patrick Vignal, with his flowery shirts, is a nice guy. But in the end, he won’t have done much for this constituency,” Bort said. In the leaflet he distributes in the markets, the departmental boss of the RN devotes a full page to knocking out the outgoing: a “perfect godillot deputy”, who holds “a real record of absenteeism” and “cumulates mandates for 20 years “.

During a debate on France 3 in the presence of the other candidates, Bort made Vignal his only punching bag. “He needs to hit me to exist,” sighs Vignal, who believes he has done his job well as a deputy, whether in the Assembly or on the TV sets of the info channels, where he has his napkin ring. Determined not to return the blows publicly, the incumbent repeats, like a mantra, that “people are tired of these politicians who spend more time fighting than building. My only enemy is myself.” But sometimes he lets loose: “That boy got lost. He makes me sad “.

The two opponents have another point in common: both were born into politics in the shadow of the local giant, Georges Frêche, who reigned over Montpellier for 27 years, and over the Languedoc-Roussillon region for six years, before his disappearance. in 2010. “Frêche was my mentor,” recalls Vignal. The mayor of Montpellier brought Vignal, who was his personal sports coach, into his municipal team in 2001. His foal knew how to surf the waves: elected PS deputy in 2012, Vignal was the only one re-elected in Hérault in 2017 , after joining On the Move!.

Before moving to the RN, Bort had less success than his rival. This law and political science graduate was spotted, at the age of 24, by Georges Frêche, who made him his closest collaborator for six years. Those who have seen Yves Jeuland’s excellent documentary, The President, on the “Imperator’s” last election campaign, remember Councilor Bort, unashamedly urging the Frêchist elected officials to “lie” because, “during an election period , anything can be said. The young cabinet director has political ambitions. But his mentor gone, he is deprived of support. He obtained neither the nomination of the PS in 2012, nor that of LREM in 2017. And, candidate without logo, only collected 2.91%.

In 2021, Bort crossed the Rubicon and joined the RN, which he denounced the day before. No apparent mood. “The path between Frêche the populist and the National and Popular Rally of Marine Le Pen was not very far to go,” he says. Indifferent to the bronca – that of the widow of Frêche who rebels, that of the local RN officials who slam the door – the defector Bort, head of the list in the Hérault, is elected regional councilor in 2021. In the legislative elections, he thinks he has every chance this time.