“Say it’s over with LFI. Tell everyone!”

François Ruffin is campaigning for the legislative elections in the Espérance estate, in Abbeville (Somme), on June 23, 2024. GUILLAUME HERBAUT FOR “THE WORLD”

It is a communist land, a town hall held with a firm and generous hand by the Communist Party since 1965. The small village of Flixecourt, 3,200 inhabitants, in the middle of the Somme valley, between Amiens and Abbeville, was also, for François Ruffin, the outgoing deputy, affiliated with La France insoumise, a piece of his political capital, patiently ploughed since his first election in 2017. Symbolically, it was in the small streets of the town, among the red brick houses, that the deputy, one of the first promoters of the New Popular Front in the aftermath of the shock of the announcement of the dissolution, had launched his campaign for the legislative elections, to the joyful sound of trumpets and drums. Alas, the fall was painful on the evening of June 30 when the results of the first constituency of the Somme came in: the candidate of the National Rally (RN), Nathalie Ribeiro Billet, came clearly in the lead with 40.7% of the vote ahead of François Ruffin with 33.9% and the candidate Ensemble, Albane Branlant (22.7%), who has since withdrawn in her favor.

In Flixecourt, a symbol of the large villages of the rural working class world, with their false indolence, the shock was even harsher, and the mayor Patrick Gaillard has not completely recovered. ” It hurts “he said four days and four nights later. Electoral arithmetic is cruel. In June 2022, François Ruffin had obtained 55.4% of the votes in the commune, or 513 votes, against 24.8% and 230 votes for his RN competitor. A seemingly solid bastion. On June 30, he only obtained 34.1% of the votes, or 478 votes, against 52.3% and 734 votes for the far-right candidate. He lost the number of votes, she tripled her votes, an earthquake on this scale. As in several dozen communes in the constituency, where Nathalie Ribeiro Billet sometimes exceeded 50%, and even 67% in Domqueur, a village of 300 inhabitants. Through his window on the first floor of the town hall, the mayor shows RN posters with large images of RN president Jordan Bardella and Marine Le Pen: “On election day, I saw and heard voters ask: “Where is the Marine ballot?” “A lot of young people came to vote,” the elected officials noted. Many people, too, whose voting cards had never been stamped.

The same people probably vote communist in municipal elections – for the last two elections, in 2020 and 2014, they had no choice, however, since only one list was presented. “We hear a lot about immigrants. It’s the fear of the unknown. The fear of foreigners that television shows as bad guys. Because for immigrants here, they tell me: oh, but he’s not the same.” The town suffered, very brutally, in the 1980s, factory closures with the collapse of the French textile industry. A social, economic and demographic drain on a hard-working, agricultural and working-class land, poor and less qualified. The fear of social decline has remained etched in the collective memory, leading those who have little to lose to fear those who are too poor to have anything to lose – immigrants. “I saw people who were particularly helped by the community tell me that they wanted to vote RN, the mayor still testifies. They would never have had so much help if the RN was in power and yet they vote for the extreme right.” A breath: ” It hurts. “

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