In the Lot, Aurélien Pradié, n°3 of the Republicans, and his two rivals from a divided left roam the countryside at the wheel of old cars, a few days before a first round of legislative elections with an uncertain outcome.

Citroën van, 4L, 2CV: the voters of the first constituency of the Lot see these three rather young candidates parade in vehicles that smell of the 20th century.

For Aurélien Pradié, secretary general of the Republicans (LR), the stakes are high.

Embarked in his white 4L, a “freedom car” which gives “a little simplicity” according to him, he is leading his second legislative campaign after the successful one of 2017 at the wheel of a Mehari.

The outgoing deputy wants to gather, hoping then to lead the reconstruction of his party.

“We are not engaged in politics to be clan leaders,” he told AFP. At 36, he intends to broaden his electoral base despite the fiasco of the LR presidential candidate, Valérie Pécresse, who only won 5.2% of the vote in the Lot, 4.8% at the national level.

“We are engaged in politics to embark behind his project, his convictions, his personality, the majority of our fellow citizens, whether they are on the right or on the left”, he assures, before putting on the crampons for a match. rugby friendly in Castelnau-Montratier, a town of 1,800 inhabitants in the south of the department.

In 2017, he narrowly won with 51.32% of the vote, ahead of the candidate of La République en Marche (LREM) who came first in the first round.

This year, no “walker” against him, but nine candidates including two weight left.

Rémi Branco, departmental councilor since 2021 and former chief of staff of Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of Agriculture under François Hollande, enjoys the support of the local Socialist Party and the PS president of the Occitanie region Carole Delga.

“In the history of the left, there has always been a radical left and a republican left. It is this left that I want to embody in the Assembly”, asserts this 37-year-old agri-food sector executive.

He goes to meet voters in a blue van, a Citroën “tube” which allows, he says, “a traveling campaign” and “friendly”. From “village to village”, he brings out Cahors wine and sausage for improvised aperitifs.

Elsa Bougeard’s blue 2CV, 40, has already been put to use before the presidential election to “fetch abstainers”.

It is now flanked by the logo of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) and the candidate intends to stand out from the socialist dissident, supported by the fringe of the PS who refused to ally with La France insoumise of Jean-Luc Melenchon.

“I represent a program of rupture. Mr. Branco, he is part of the more liberal bloc”, affirms the candidate during her visit to Gourdon, a locality of 4,000 inhabitants.

In this rural constituency of 91,000 inhabitants, the candidates clash in particular on the question of medical deserts. Less than 55% of residents have access to a doctor in their municipality, compared to nearly 80% nationally.

Aurélien Pradié suggests “allowing young medical students in their final year to do a year on a compulsory mission in our rural areas”.

For his part, Rémi Branco wishes to “increase the number of places in medical faculties”, but also “accelerate the delegation of medical acts” to other health professionals.

As for Elsa Bougeard, she advocates “the hiring of 100,000 caregivers in the hospital, the end of fee-for-service pricing and the return of local maternity wards”.

But “there is always the risk of the far right,” laments Pierre Couffignials, an 83-year-old retiree, regretting “that Aurélien Pradié did not form an alliance with La République en Marche to form a large bloc”.

Without a candidate from the outgoing majority, the games are indeed open. The RN, credited with 20% of the presidential vote, will be represented by Cendrine Couturier, 52. For her, only her party embodies “the real opposition” and Aurélien Pradié is only a “record holder for absenteeism in the National Assembly”.

06/06/2022 08:53:21 – Cahors (France) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP