In the Var, the deep reasons for the RN electoral tsunami
In Forcalqueiret, a charmless town in the Var hinterland, which stretches along the departmental road, the town hall displays its slogan: “the village where life is good”. Yet it is here that the vote for the far right has exploded, reaching scores among the highest in France. In the second round of the presidential election, Marine Le Pen won 70% of the vote, a score identical to the legislative elections for the RN. In his town hall, a beautiful building and a former retirement home, Gilbert Bringant was the first to be surprised at the magnitude of the wave, in this historically very right-wing city. “There is no immigration, apart from two well-integrated families and very little insecurity, except for a few burglaries, raises the chosen one. I believe people are afraid. They don’t want the problems they see in Marseille or Toulon to happen here.” The former mayor, Pierre Gautier shares this opinion “The inhabitants want to preserve their living environment. They see immigration in the big cities and do not want it to arrive at home.”
A vote of support for the ideas of the National Rally
In the Var, this phobia of immigration has been a historical driver of the vote for the far right, Toulon having been the first major city conquered by the National Front. But today, the wave has turned into a wave bringing seven RN deputies to the Assembly (out of eight constituencies), the largest contingent in a department. And it is these villages of Haut-Var that have fueled this success: from Signes to Méounes via Gonfaron and Tavernes, the scores of the RN greatly exceed 60% (in the presidential and legislative elections) while the coastal towns of Hyères and Toulon, where a Macronist deputy was elected, are resisting. “It’s a historic moment, boasts Franck Giletti, boss of the RN du Var federation and elected deputy. This vote is not only of protest but of support for our ideas. And our electorate is both the one who is shocked by the uncontrolled immigration and that of peripheral France, struggling to live from his work.”
Scanning RN voters, political scientists have often opposed the “identity” vote in PACA, historically carried by the many returnees from Algeria, and the social vote of the popular categories in Hauts-de-France, the other stronghold. Today, in the Var, these two far-right electorates have merged, which explains the electoral surge. “Many villages in the hinterland have experienced a demographic explosion, with the arrival of families working in Toulon and Marseille, who have been able to buy a house, deciphers François Volpi, referent of Territories of Progress, the party macronists on the left. It is a middle class, which bears the brunt of the rise in fuel prices in its long journeys by car to go to work”.
Forcalqueiret perfectly illustrates the phenomenon. In fifteen years, this village has grown from 800 to nearly 3,000 inhabitants, leaving the houses to be built on its outskirts. “There has been uncontrolled urbanization, which creates neighborhood problems, deplores Mayor Gilbert Bringant. The price of real estate has soared, transport costs too. People are tired.” “Honestly it’s hard, testifies this resident. No T2 for less than 650 euros per month. I have to do two jobs to get by.” Other villages in the north of the department are suffering from the distance from the main roads and the gradual reduction of public services. “We are suffering from the territorial divide, with a virtual absence of public transport”, deplores François Volpi, also deputy mayor of Barjols.
By allying with the Var right, Macronie has destabilized its electorate
The RN surge also has more political causes: the volte-face of the LR right, led by Hubert Falco, mayor of Toulon and baron of the department, who rallied to Emmanuel Macron. “The Falco clan imposed its candidates, which destabilized our electorate, deplores Olivier Lutersztejn, LREM referent of the Var, who resigned from his functions. We have an ethical electorate. He did not understand that we are allying ourselves with an elected official implicated in legal cases. This sudden alliance of the Var right with Macronie also destabilized the LR electorate, who abstained or joined the far right.
And yet, some villages are resisting. In Correns, the RN candidate was largely outdistanced by that of La République en Marche. For Mickaël Latz, the former mayor, it is the result of determined local action: “We have mastered urbanization and invested in social housing, which has made it possible to house the inhabitants of the village. organic winegrowers has energized the territory.” Same satisfaction in Châteaudouble, where the RN does not obtain the majority when Marine Le Pen had made it a symbol, landing, in 2018, to denounce the arrival of migrants from Syria and Afghanistan. “It went very well with these families, very popular in the village“testifies Georges Rouvier, the mayor, who welcomes 70 other families from Ukraine.
In Brignoles too, in this city of 17,000 inhabitants, elected officials have the feeling of resisting the RN wave. In 2013, the election of the frontist Laurent Lopez to a partial cantonal had created a national shock, putting the spotlight on this deprived city, far from the Côte d’Azur, with a large immigrant population. “At the time, we were” the “city of the Var of the National Front. Since then, compared to the others, the push has been contained”, wants to believe Didier Brémond, the various right mayor. In fact, Brignoles voted for the RN candidate at 56% “only” in the second round of the legislative elections, far from the stratospheric levels of the neighboring villages. “We have energized the town, by investing in the city center, the hospital and by attracting companies, which have created 2,000 jobs”, assures Brémond. Even if the “resistance” of his city is all relative, he seems to be showing the way to try to stem this far-right electoral tsunami.
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