Who is Éric Coquerel, the very ambiguous ‘rebellious’ chairman of the finance committee?
He had never seen that before. Charles Amédée du Buisson de Courson, a staunch centrist MP and a pillar of the Finance Committee for 29 years, did not expect to one day find a former Trotskyist militant chairing his “dear” committee. . And the first steps of Insoumis Éric Coquerel could hardly calm him down. His first meeting was forty-five minutes late, a crime of lese majeste in an institution that has made punctuality a top priority. And what about the attitude of the new president in the plenary hall? He knocks, scolds, rattles, scolds his opponents. “Coquerel Molotov”, as his opponents called him, is a far cry from the sophisticated style of his predecessors. To a majority MP who insulted him in the assembly, he responded in the same tone: “You know you should take the microphone instead of yelling like that?” His relations with Bruno Le Maire, while polite, are relentless. When examining the Financial Amendment Act he unhinged the minister by accusing him of “neoliberalism”.. Insoumis cheers in the front row. There he stands, a worker’s grandson, on the same level as the great Treasurer of Bercy. He’s sorry for Courson: “The problem is that we were used to big people, real specialists in public finance. With Coquerel, it gets tangled up between the changes in the law and the articles of the law.”
Marxist and revolutionary
Strange fate that of Éric Coquerel. Here is the story of a man who has worked all his life on the fringes of the anti-capitalist left, including more than fifteen years in the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), and at the age of 63 was inducted into the budget temple: the Treasury Committee of the National Assembly . Dizzying, even for this seasoned activist of social struggles. Especially since the mail should never have gotten back to him. When reserved for the opposition, the implicit rule is that it must end up in the hands of a moderate. However, Eric Coquerel is not a moderator. He is a hard man from the Pabloite branch of Trotskyism who claimed to belong to the revolutionary Marxist alliance. And an ideologue who abhors social democracy and the Europe of Brussels. His choice emerges from the dispute of circumstances. In the exploded political landscape inherited from the second round of general elections, the right and the far right, fueled by mutual distrust, proved unable to unite, while the Macronists withdrew from the vote and paved the way for the Appointment of the “rebellious” paved.
Eric Coquerel, student, during demonstrations against the Devaquet Act in 1986.
Three months later, Eric Coquerel slipped into presidential clothes. Very literally at first by starting to wear a tie. “I bought it for the occasion because I never wear it,” he admits, amused by the small concession. But above all by trying to make sure of his intentions. “From his first speech, he set himself up as the president of all the members of the commission and not as that of a clan,” says PS MEP Christine Pirès Beaune. “I was put on trial by presenting my election as a return of the Bolsheviks,” Eric Coquerel defends. I know what my charge is.” Even his opponents, who have sometimes been the first to wave the red flag this summer, have come to praise his sense of pluralism. “He’s trying to listen. Our ideas differ, but he doesn’t use his position to bully those who think differently,” boasts LR Fabien Di Filippo. “He was fair and republican in distributing special reports and didn’t just give us rotten topics,” adds Jean-Philippe Tanguy, Marine Le Pen’s right arm.
Humiliated by Yaël Braun-Pivet
So, realigned, Éric Coquerel? No, rather ambivalent, ambiguous, ambiguous… Because behind the apparent bonhomie of the character, the revolutionary flame never stopped burning. Within this veteran militant, who has seen so much compromise and petty treachery from the left, is an obsession not to deviate from his political line. “I’m not one of those people who changed their minds to get a job. I’m not a moderate in this matter,” he trumpets. He went from words to deeds, deploying his commission in all directions, drafting a fact-finding mission on the state’s use of consulting firms and another on taxing superprofits. And its mostly anti-government commission on Tuesday, October 4, rejected the financial programming bill.
However, Eric Coquerel’s activism is in danger of being slowed down. Because his powers on the Treasury Committee are more limited than they appear. So this summer he was humiliated by the Macronist Parliament President Yaël Braun-Pivet, who regained control of his prerogatives by censoring the amendments of MPs who proposed the reinstatement of unvaccinated nurses on the grounds that they increased public spending . And another, more direct threat looms over the Insoumis: the annual reassessment of the presidency of the Commission. Macronist MEPs can choose to hit the “stop” button at any time. For these reasons, the Coquerel presidency will “probably be measured,” predicts constitutional lawyer Alexis Fourmont. “He made a diagnostic error when he thought he was going to turn the commission into a platform to consult Macronie, when it’s basically a very institutional position,” scoffs one of his opponents.
In the parliamentary football team. The deputy develops as a defender alongside Sylvain Maillard (LREM) or Julien Dive (LR). With mixed success. One of his first games against the “Variétés club de France” of Christian Karembeu and Robert Pirès ended in 2018 with the final score of 16:0.
In the absence of a big night, Éric Coquerel should focus on the control activities guaranteed by his function. And nothing is forbidden. “The lifting of tax secrecy, the on-the-spot control in companies, in Bercy, I will use as soon as necessary. The figures that the unions cannot obtain, I will request without hesitation.” This activist of all lost cases, Palestinian , undocumented, homeless, will go to the end to shake this system he has fought so hard. “For him, every budget issue is political,” says his former assistant David Guiraud, and he lives for the political struggle, whether it’s holding the picket lines or demanding documents from Bercy.” The Coquerel threat is taken so seriously that Finance Minister Gabriel Attal warned in the middle of summer: “It is absolutely necessary to ensure that our laws, our rules, including tax secrecy, are observed.”
In the tournament
overcome the shock. Ride through the storm. The Insoumis, who are being bombed in the upper echelons of power, are also in turmoil, overtaken by allegations of sexual harassment. The blow came from that associative world he loves so much, through the voice of intersectional activist Rokhaya Diallo, who on the day he was elected head of the Finance Committee publicly mentioned “multiple sources” within LFI who complained about his behavior with women . Four days later, the “yellow vest” reported to Sophie Tissier for “sexual harassment”. Already four years ago an article in the magazine Chat charged “a manager of LFI”, “tactile” and with “wandering” hands. Hurt and physically scarred by these allegations, Éric Coquerel, who denies any inappropriate behavior, says he thought of stopping everything. But that would have been an admission of his guilt. Supported by his party and family, he decided to keep going. But hopes to someday have the opportunity to whitewash his honor.
With Jean-Luc Mélenchon, his mentor and friend, at a Left Party meeting in 2010. “He is a friend, but a special friend because I recognized him as my leader,” he confides.
The fact that he was able to remain in office is thanks to the MP for Seine-Saint-Denis Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who immediately flew to his aid. “Mean response against Éric Coquerel, aimed at slandering him without reason. Total solidarity with him”, responded the Patriarch of La France insoumise. The political bond between the two men, companions since 2008, has become friendly. But before they got there, they had to overcome mutual distrust. Because when Coquerel met Mélenchon in 2003, it was a clash of cultures between the old militant of the LCR and the socialist. And when Mélenchon plans to appoint Coquerel to the head of his association “For the Social Republic”, he refuses. This will not prevent them from meeting again in 2005 in connection with the uproar against the European Constitutional Treaty. In 2007, as the anti-liberal left was trying to find its way to the presidential elections, Éric Coquerel suggested the name Jean-Luc Mélenchon… who will remember. When Mélenchon left PS with a bang in 2008, everything accelerated. Éric Coquerel merges his small formation, the Mars, into the Left Party and gains responsibility.
The “godfather” of LFI
Gradually he asserted himself as one of the ideologues of the formation. After theorizing the “Plans A and B” for the renegotiation of the European treaties, which remain the European matrix of LFI to this day, he will organize the move from La France insoumise to the working-class neighborhoods. His observation comes from a simple idea: he missed out on Jean-Luc Mélenchon by 600,000 votes to qualify for the 2017 second round, and that pool of votes is in the suburbs, which were weakly mobilized in the presidential election. What does it matter if this strategy creates contortions about secularism and the party is worth a complaint in the “Islamo Left” … Éric Coquerel in particular convinces Jean-Luc Mélenchon to take part in the very controversial march against Islamophobia in November 2019 . A step to the side that clarifies the duality of Éric Coquerel: the ex-Chevènementist, specialist in questions of secularism, parades alongside followers of political Islam. A total turnaround. “He acted out of pure political opportunism,” tears down ex-LFI François Cocq.
Eric Coquerel and Jean-Luc Mélenchon pose alongside former Brazilian Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff.
At the same time, he became one of LFI’s “Godfathers”. Like Julien Dray during his time at the PS, he discovers talents: MEP Leïla Chaibi, Taha Bouhafs, interim candidate for the general elections in Vénissieux, his assistant David Guiraud, who has become Roubaix’s deputy… He has “Coquerel babies” to be politically trained and will be valuable supporters in due course. So, 2027, is he thinking about it? “The notion that we will replace Jean-Luc so easily is a pipe dream. It’s our Jaurès,” enters the person concerned. But those who know him well tell a different story: “Below his friendly exterior, he’s smart,” points out a former Rebellious executive. The Treasury Committee is just a stepping stone. He aims further.” Ambiguous, ambivalent and… ambitious. Coquerel will not refuse anything. Not even a presidential adventure.
It is always my pleasure to provide insightful information on important topics and if you have learned something from my article then I thank you for taking the time to share it with your friends or family.
We put a lot of heart and invest a lot of time trying to bring you the most interesting articles.
You would encourage us to do it even better in the future. Thank you!