Valérie Pécresse has completed the repayment of her campaign loan thanks to her appeal for donations. The presidential candidate LR, personally in debt of more than five million euros, had not exceeded 5% of the vote and had been deprived of reimbursement from the State. Like Yannick Jadot, arrived at 4.6%, and for which EELV collected more than three million euros in donations. Or the socialist Anne Hidalgo at 1.8%. This is the rule: to be reimbursed for expenses up to 47.5% of the authorized ceiling, you must reach this fateful threshold. Otherwise, only 800,000 euros are paid by the state. The rule also applies to future legislative elections. An imperative that gives party treasurers cold sweats… and is bad for democracy?

“The advantage of this funding is that we can demand the transparency of campaign accounts,” recalls Romain Mathieu, political science researcher at the University of Lorraine. It is also a way of avoiding the multiplication of applications. So far, no one really found fault with it. “It is the first time that this problem does not only affect small parties, but parties that have been dominant in political life. A system “ill adapted to change”, recognizes the researcher, who shows his limits in this unstable period of political recomposition.

On the side of EELV, we were not really surprised. Environmentalists have crossed the 5% mark only once in the presidential election, with Noël Mamère in 2002. For Yannick Jadot’s campaign, expenses were certainly higher than usual, but they were planed at the end of the race (at six million euros). “We got out of the red zone with the donations, but the coming years are going to be difficult,” breathes Sandra Regol, the party’s deputy national secretary, who doesn’t rail against the rules of the game. is legalistic. »

For Les Républicains, it’s more complicated: no one expected such a poor score, and almost 15 million euros were spent. “It is clear that no one is ever sure of making the 5%, underlines the treasurer of the party, Daniel Fasquelle. Valerie was 15% in the polls a few months ago! And to worry about a system that would cool the ardor of potential candidates who would not want or could not commit their own money to campaign. “We cannot reserve applications for the wealthy. »

Daniel Fasquelle has no definite opinion on the model to adopt, but “militates for us to put the financing of political parties back on the table”. If he stresses the importance of keeping filters, he wonders about the advisability of keeping two for the presidential election, when the number of candidacies is already limited by the sponsorship system. “We need both a device that allows the expression of democratic life and prevents candidacies from flourishing for the wrong reasons. We walk on a wire. »

The risk, adds Romain Mathieu, is also that the small parties censor themselves by never spending enough to compete with the large, well-established ones. “This public funding also has consequences on the strategy: we will look for the candidate who will make the most votes to bring in the most money, rather than bringing out new faces. Ultimately, small parties could die. “Even if they weigh little, they are still currents that animate French political life”, insists the researcher, who outlines a track: “We could legally define what a political party is, and set this as a condition for funding . »