How environmentalist Marine Tondelier established herself as “a new face on the left” during the campaign

How environmentalist Marine Tondelier established herself as “a new face on the left” during the campaign
How environmentalist Marine Tondelier established herself as “a new face on the left” during the campaign

Known for her fight against the far right in Pas-de-Calais, the activist in the apple green jacket placed herself at the centre of the game to prevent the RN from coming to power.

“What is Jordan Bardella afraid of?” A few days before the second round of early legislative elections, the question of a debate between the political leaders of the different forces present is animating the campaign. While the New Popular Front had planned to send Marine Tondelier, the national secretary of the Ecologists-EELV, the president of the National Rally wanted to confront the rebellious Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

“He clearly has a problem with women. He says he defends them, but when it comes to putting his words into action, it seems, as you might expect, much more complicated.”judged the environmental leader in Releasesupported by a collective of feminists in a column published by the same newspaper. In front of “the impossibility of mounting a debate”BFMTV has therefore finally organized a “special broadcast” on the evening of Wednesday, July 3. No confrontation on the agenda, but a speech by“one hour each” for Gabriel Attal, Marine Tondelier and Jordan Bardella, the continuous news channel specifies on its site.

This participation illustrates a trend that has been underway for several weeks: the environmentalist has established herself on the left as one of the figures of the campaign. This former parliamentary assistant to Cécile Duflot, campaign manager for Eric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble, during the environmentalist primary and spokesperson for Yannick Jadot in the presidential election was elected head of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts in December 2022. But after the setback of the 2024 European elections, where the head of the list Marie Toussaint barely reached 5.5%, “she was able to place us once again in a position of prescriber for these legislative elections”rejoices the Green MEP David Cormand. Not surprising, however, according to Simon Persico, professor of political science at Sciences-Po Grenoble: “The Greens were not a threatening force, they could not afford to make any pretensions in the negotiations for the constituencies. They therefore had an easy time playing the role of mediators.”

As soon as the dissolution of the National Assembly was announced, on the evening of the European election results, Marine Tondelier “played the role of synthesis and gathering”greets Marie Toussaint, head of the Ecologists list for the European elections. On the evening of June 9, Marine Tondelier thus took the initiative to call “all progressive party leaders to come together.” “The time is too serious to waste hours tearing each other apart.”she defends on the social network X.

“Very quickly, she wanted us to move forward as a group of four [avec La France insoumise, le Parti socialiste et le Parti communiste français]. She was very determined.”

David Cormand, Green MEP

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A successful bet: the next day, she made the agreement official in the evening from the Paris headquarters of the Ecologists. “Everyone thought we were deadshe says. Twenty-four hours later [la dissolution]we announced the creation of the Popular Front in front of our premises, with everyone who had gradually come to discuss inside. The good contacts of trust that we had with each other counted”rejoices the environmentalist, the only woman among the party leaders of the left alliance.

Her start to the campaign is also appreciated within the associative environment. She is “very attentive”notes Anne Bringault, director of programs at the Climate Action Network. “She is the only political representative who contacted us, at the very beginning of the campaign, to discuss the program.”

From then on, she embodies “a new face on the left, with an original communication register, oscillating between the seriousness of the moment and his direct way of presenting his ideas”describes Simon Persico. She plays collectively, for “to stand up to” against the National Rally. A strategy that is familiar to her: Marine Tondelier forged herself politically in Hénin-Beaumont, in Pas-de-Calais, stronghold of Marine Le Pen, where she has been fighting in the municipal opposition for ten years, as she recounts in her book News from the frontpublished in 2017.

Still living in the same city, she has fought Marine Le Pen in the legislative elections on several occasions, without success, notably in 2022. Refusing to “desert” the constituency, she presented herself on Sunday June 30 as a substitute for Samira Laal, the socialist candidate invested by the New Popular Front, beaten in the first round by Marine Le Pen. “She has been holding her own against the extreme right for years. It has taken a toll on her.”greets his colleague Marie Toussaint.

“She knows what disinformation operations are, what indecent attacks are, what the extreme right’s project is… In this extremely serious moment that we are going through, she perceives the danger and knows how to resist it.”

Marie Toussaint, Green MEP

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An experience that makes his interventions in the face of opposition “clear and solid”according to his supporters.

A few days before the first round, Marine Tondelier wants to close the debate around Jean-Luc Mélenchon: according to her, the founder of La France insoumise “is not the leader of the New Popular Front and he will not be Prime Minister”. In the process, on Wednesday June 26, she called on the party leaders of the Macronist camp to accept a “Republican withdrawal” in order to beat the National Rally in the second round, recalling that its candidates will do the same in such a case.

“He was one of the first to say these two statements, which turned out to be shared, but which were still uncertain at the time. That clarified and facilitated what followed.”

Simon Persico, professor of political science

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Since the beginning of the campaign, Marine Tondelier has also established herself as a media figure, dressed in her apple green jacket. On the evening of the first round of the legislative elections, on the set of France 2 or at Place de la République, she rehearses the triptych in front of the camera “never lower your head, never lower your eyes, never give up” against the extreme right.

The next day, she spoke on France Inter, her voice broken with indignation, to denounce “cowardly and privileged behavior” of Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, who had just opposed the Republican withdrawal for a rebellious candidate against the RN. “Does the RN have the possibility of having an absolute majority in the National Assembly? The answer is yes. Does LFI have the capacity to have an absolute majority in the National Assembly? The answer is no”she recalls. Throughout the campaign, Marine Tondelier “has become denser, it has increased its notoriety”observe Simon Persico.

To occupy a more important role in the French political landscape in the future? This will require resolving certain disagreements within her own party. While Marine Tondelier seemed open on TF1 to the idea of ​​a “plural majority” Proposed by Gabriel Attal, the Green MP Sandrine Rousseau offered a completely different perspective on France 2, stating: “I don’t want to betray the voters.” Enough to tarnish the family picture. In ReleaseMarine Tondelier preferred to put this question off until after July 7: “There is no point in spending too much time this week speculating. (…) This is a story that will be written from July 8.”

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