The bar-tabac of the village of Condé-Folie (Somme), the “Café of the future”, filled up for the visit of the troublemaker of the National Assembly, media figure, candidate for his re-election.
Sitting on a bar stool, in the middle of the inhabitants, François Ruffin lets loose on the purchasing power: “Can you count to three? One, two, three … That’s 10,000 euros for Jeff Bezos!” the founder of Amazon.
“The little ones pay for the big ones when the big ones should pay big and the little ones pay little”, continues the journalist deputy, founder of the satirical newspaper Fakir, who also made himself known with his Caesarized documentary “Thank you boss! “.
Then the representative of Nupes, who wants to be close to the people, recalls his three promises of 2017: “I will put myself on the Smic, my mandate will be revocable and I will stand up straight for you.”
The discussion ends with a “battle cry”: “We are going to win!” He pays for his tour. It’s time for the darts tournament.
– Jugglers and fire-eaters –
Of “bistro debates” like this, François Ruffin says he has organized about fifteen. “I have a range” of events to “combat resignation, dejection, discouragement”, he explains to AFP. “My adversary is finance, but above all it is indifference.”
As for a circus show, a van topped with an imposing red balloon wandered through Condé-Folie to announce the evening meeting.
“Oyez! Oyez! Here your deputy François Ruffin. With the Ruffin bulletin, you will be able to say no to Macron”, he launched in the streets of this village of 900 inhabitants, where Marine Le Pen made 60% in the second round.
In addition to these meetings, the 46-year-old deputy also led “marches against Macron” with carnival parades, jugglers and fire-eaters.
In 2017, “we won by beating on drums, because the joy of not doing traditional things, with the right suit and the right tie, arouses interest in public affairs”, wants to believe the one who cultivates his normality in blue jeans and a beige jacket.
In 2019, according to INSEE, more than 20% of the population of its constituency, affected by deindustrialization with the closure of Goodyear and textile companies, had a standard of living below the poverty line, compared to 14.5% in France.
Eight candidates – including three from the far right or sovereignists – are facing the outgoing in this territory that is both urban, peri-urban and rural, which includes part of Amiens and Abbeville.
– “French of stock” –
Among them, Nathalie Ribeiro-Billet, of the RN, who is surprised by the campaign methods of Mr. Ruffin: “I do not have the capacity to offer voters to drink everywhere, to pay them carousel rides , pancakes, concerts…”
The LREM candidate Pascal Rifflart is ironic about an “American-style campaign”. “Me, I am not a showman, I am Picard”, launches this general practitioner from Amiens, during a door-to-door visit in the suburban streets of Camon, a pro-Macron village.
“Ruffin is not a guy in the field. He’s a sweet dreamer. He doesn’t have his hands dirty”. His record? “I’m looking for him … Yes, he jostled the bourgeoisie”, continues the 65-year-old candidate, who created controversy by presenting himself as “French of stock” on his campaign leaflet.
“Bullshit, Parisianism”, he sweeps, swearing to ignore the sulphurous dimension of the concept.
But “to claim to be French of stock in a land which voted massively for the National Rally is to flirt with the electorate of the extremes”, vituperates Pascal Fradcourt, 62-year-old business manager, who claims to be “the presidential majority”.
He judges the outgoing “ineffective”. A deputy “at the gates of your company at each social movement is not what attracts them to our territory.”
François Ruffin sees himself as a “challenge” of the election. “I can’t be confident,” he swears, despite “the red background” of a constituency that has almost always been on the left.