“Jean-Luc Mélenchon on TV every two days was strangling us. I had to cut the rope to be able to breathe.”

François Ruffin, invested by the New Popular Front, won the second round of the legislative elections in the first constituency of the Somme. Here, in Paris, on July 9, 2024. ED ALCOCK / MYOP FOR “THE WORLD”

Narrowly re-elected on Sunday July 7 in the 1re constituency of the Somme against the National Rally (RN), the deputy François Ruffin takes a critical look at La France insoumise (LFI), the political party that he left before the second round of the legislative elections. Calling not to oppose “France of towns and towers”he accuses his former party of having knowingly abandoned the popular countryside and working-class lands, to concentrate only on young people and the neighborhoods.

How do you analyze the results of the legislative elections? Is it really a victory for the left?

On the evening of the European elections, June 9, the left was in tatters, morale in its socks. That with a “Be united”and ” Popular Front “we manage to turn the light back on in four weeks, that’s a hope. But at the risk of playing the killjoy, I say: “Be careful, this is a reprieve.” There is a trompe-l’oeil effect. The method of election, the institutions, have contained the surge of the National Rally (RN), but the wave is powerful.

My Picardy elected thirteen far-right MPs out of seventeen, it’s worse in Pas-de-Calais. 57% of workers voted for the RN in the first round, and losing the workers is very serious for the left: it’s not just losing votes, it’s also losing its soul. And in my constituency too, it must be stated clearly: I’m down eight points in two years.

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I had identified this difficulty in 2022, in my book I am writing to you from the Somme Front (The Links that Liberate). The left suffered from three “holes” : a geographical hole, the France of the towns; a demographic hole, the elderly; a social hole, modest employees. But this alert was of no use. The situation got worse, and even tipped over.

How did you experience the campaign?

In pain. On one side, there was the attractive force of the RN: in front of me, the candidate was Jordan Bardella. For many people, Marine Le Pen and him embody change. And on the other side, a force of repulsion. For three weeks, we carried our cross, a backpack full of stones, we came up against a wall, a name: “Mélenchon, Mélenchon, Mélenchon.” With the profile of the left, of LFI, these last two years, I knew that we were losing ground. But I thought that my figure, locally, would serve as a lightning rod.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers François Ruffin in the fight in the Somme for the legislative elections: “Say it clearly that it’s over with LFI. Tell everyone!”

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Well no, that is not enough, nor for Sébastien Jumel [député sortant communiste (PCF), qui s’est incliné en Seine-Maritime]nor to Fabien Roussel [secrétaire national du PCF, qui a perdu dans le Nord]nor to others. It was almost comical: people would tell me “We love your speeches, it’s great”, “wait, I’m calling my wife, we’re going to take a selfie”and in the end, against Macron and Mélenchon, they voted for Bardella!

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