In Béziers, the Ménard stronghold weakened by the vote in favor of the RN | EUROtoday

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Jacques and Christiane Barthès in front of the Béziers city hall. The former voted for Emmanuelle Ménard, outgoing MP in the 6th constituency of Hérault, in the first round of the legislative elections, Sunday, June 30. The latter gave her vote to the National Rally candidate, Julien Gabarron. July 3, 2024.

Jacques and Christiane Barthès are proud to have been married by Robert Ménard himself, seven years in the past. He doesn't do weddings often. »says with a smile this 79-year-old retiree, formerly in real estate, speaking of the mayor of Béziers (Hérault) since 2014. So of course, Jacques has “voted Ménard” in the first round of the legislative elections, Sunday June 30. Not Robert, but Emmanuelle Ménard, his wife, outgoing MP for the 6th constituency of Hérault (various right, according to the prefecture). “And you Bardella, you gave in”he teases his wife Christiane, 74, a former professor of tourist geography and art history.

More specifically, Christiane Barthès voted for Julien Gabarron, the National Rally (RN) candidate in the constituency. “It was purely strategic, she acknowledges. To keep away from the left, it’s higher to strengthen the acute proper and provides them the bulk.” Moreover, Christiane easily describes Emmanuelle Ménard as “good lady” and she will vote for her in the second round, Sunday July 7, “to help her”because ” the opposite [Julien Gabarron] is bound to be elected anyway”The retiree does not understand why the outgoing MP did not ally herself with the RN as in the 2022 legislative elections. “They did one thing silly, she lamentstalking of the Ménard couple. There, she was heading straight for a fiasco.

It was a small earthquake that struck Béziers this night of June 30. The RN candidate Julien Gabarron completed largely within the lead with 41.1% of the vote, forward of Emmanuelle Ménard (27.3%) and the New Popular Front (La France Insoumise) candidate Magali Crozier (21%). However, the outgoing MP, within the National Assembly since 2017, had been elected with practically 70% of the vote within the second spherical in 2022 with the help of the far-right get together that had not offered anybody towards her. But this time, the nationwide RN wave was too sturdy. Emmanuelle Ménard was left behind within the seventeen municipalities of the constituency, together with within the couple's historic stronghold in Béziers, the place she was crushed by round 1,800 votes.

Read additionally | What to recollect from the primary spherical of the 2024 legislative elections in Hérault

At the farmers' market on Place Jean-Jaurès, a stone's throw from Emmanuelle Ménard's workplace, Elisabeth (who requested anonymity) is canvassing for the candidate. At 66, this monetary advisor at a metropolis financial institution, “still not retired”is aware of that the second spherical can be tough, even within the metropolis of Béziers. “She's a hard worker but she doesn't take orders from a party. That could work against her.”she analyzes.

As if as an example his level, a person throws again a paper: “No, not those traitors!” “The Ménard couple always made people believe that they were close to the ideas of the RN. That's how they got elected. And now they're spitting in their face “, explains this former market gardener, away from the market.

“Active campaign”

Emmanuelle Ménard is effectively conscious of this actuality. “I paid the price for my freedom, she recognizes. It has its drawbacks, it requires a lot of effort, but also an advantage: I am free to make my own decisions. “The outgoing MP pays simply as a lot for her husband's outings, his criticism of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella and his rapprochement with the Macronist camp. After all, it's simple to get misplaced within the thread of discussions in Béziers. We not actually know if the Ménard talked about in a sentence, by one or the opposite, corresponds to Robert or Emmanuelle. And the mayor's file, which has remodeled the town middle lately, is commonly praised and a assure of help for voting within the legislative elections.

Activists of Emmanuelle Ménard, outgoing MP for the 6th constituency of Hérault, distribute leaflets at the farmers' market in Béziers (Hérault), on July 3, 2024.

Sitting at his desk within the city corridor, Robert Ménard is fast to say “we”. “I say 'we' because we have the same positions”simplifies the elected. Having moved from the socialist left to the acute proper (a label that he rejects, like his spouse, and which doesn’t outline the place of the RN both, in response to him, regardless of the opinion of the Council of State), the mayor, like his spouse, has no regrets “the freedom to reject this clan logic”.

Read additionally the portrait | Article reserved for our subscribers Robert Ménard, from the far proper to rapprochement with Macron

According to the Ménard couple, these legislative elections within the constituency are solely a “vote for a label”. “In the polling stations, I met a number of people on Sunday [30 juin] who asked me where the “Bardella bulletin” was, says Robert Ménard, criticizing in passing the RN candidate whom he says he has not “by no means crossed paths” in ten years and who “has nothing to suggest besides that 'we’d like yet another MP to nominate Bardella as prime minister'”.

For his part, Julien Gabarron believes he is leading “an energetic marketing campaign” and to be “clearly identified in Béziers” as a former manager of a city bar for ten years. He himself was pleasantly shocked ” by his score in the city of Béziers. “We have lengthy valued the Ménard “brand”, however the newest outcomes present that it was us who helped them get elected, the main candidate defends himself, evaluating a Ménard vote to a pro-Macron vote. In view of the scores within the European elections [40,5 % pour le RN à Béziers], We needed to have a candidate to signify the voters of the National Rally. It is a vote of clarification and help for our nationwide program.”

Feeling of decline

As in the rest of France, the ideas of the far-right party are increasingly finding an echo among the local population. In Béziers, this vote speaks of precariousness, a feeling of decline, contempt and insecurity, in a city where the poverty rate stands at 36% according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies and the unemployment rate at 21.8%. “There is a sense of downgrading which is gigantic right here, analyses Laurent Galy, 55, historical past and geography instructor on the Jean-Moulin highschool within the metropolis. There is a nostalgia for what Béziers was like earlier than.” He wrote his master's thesis on the glory days of the rugby club, the Association sportive de Béziers Hérault, multiple French champion in the 1970s and today stagnating in the second division without having been able to take the turn of modern rugby. Quite symbolic.

Faced with emotion, all rational discourse becomes inaudible, say the Ménards. “I’m making an attempt to argue and assert my file which sadly didn’t carry weight within the first spherical”deplores Emmanuelle. No RN voter she crossed paths with criticizes this record – often mixed with that of her husband – which is rather praised in the city. Of course we’re dissatisfied and we really feel helpless.Robert laments. Politics is unfair, however we already knew that. »


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The second spherical has not but delivered its verdict and already rumors are spreading to evoke the municipal elections of 2026. Questioned by the regional every day Free MidiJulien Gabarron has not closed the door to an RN candidacy to definitively take away the Ménard clan from Béziers.

Emmanuelle Ménard, outgoing MP for the 6th constituency of Hérault, in front of her campaign office in Béziers (Hérault), July 3, 2024.
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