Legislative 2022: the difficult campaign of former minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, parachuted over Loiret

This is the second time that the “Blanqueromóvil” breaks down in the middle of this legislative campaign. A tire was punctured on the van of the former Minister of National Education, which crosses the eastern Loiret department. “I hope that’s not a bad sign?” Hugo Lemaître, Jean-Michel Blanquer’s young deputy campaign manager, blows amused.

On the morning of this Thursday in June, the presidential majority candidate in the 4th constituency However, it is fine in the market of Courtenay, a small town of 4,000 inhabitants.

A navy blue suit without a tie, a light-colored shirt, glasses more often on one hand than on the nose, the candidate Jean-Michel tries to supplant the former minister Blanquer, amid clucking chickens in cages and clothing stalls.

“Hello, this is the program for the legislative elections,” he says mechanically, extending his pamphlet, letting out, each time, a brief and discreet laugh, full of reserve. “Blanquer, why not, but it’s a bit stiffNot coincidentally!” laughs Jean, who lives between Paris and Courtenay.

“Stiffness is my image when I’m on TV. When people meet me, that’s not the case.”

The former darling of the macronie promises to “reinvigorate the countryside through the city” in a “circus” historically anchored in the right, where the outgoing baron LR does not represent himself and where Marine Le Pen came out first in the presidential elections .

Jean-Michel Blanquer during the official presentation of the candidates for the presidential majority in Loiret.

“There is no fatality, it is a territory with gigantic assets, linked to Paris by highways. I am really seduced by the sector that has a wonderful living environment. I’ll buy a house there if they pick me, yeah.” And expose your star project, linked to education, “root of the solution” to solve problems. Medical desertification, transport or vacant companies…

I want to rehabilitate the old Gudin barracks in Montargis, to turn it into a large campus, with BTS, a prestigious management school. I can find partners.” Or how to make his position as a former minister an asset. “The issue is not being born here, she plagiarizes. But know what we bring. This circus has been in opposition for ten years, you have to roll up your sleeves.

“The Wicked Parisian Press”

But candidate is a completely different profession than minister. Jean-Michel Blanquer, who is running for the first time in an election, learned this the hard way.

“For the photo, can we make sure we don’t see that I’m on a golf course?” early May, pfirst interview with the local press in shirt sleeves, escorted by a communications consultant.

The interview takes place on the Limère golf course: not necessarily the right signal to send to voters when you want to break with the image of the minister who spends his holidays in Ibiza. beginnings are hard. Stringing together the banalities, unable to justify his parachute drop into “this very significant central region of France”, the ex-minister soon sees the “unpleasant Parisian press” on his coattails in the Loiret markets.

We make fun of the gentleman-peasant cap that he has adopted to make local color and, about the articles, the music of a casting error is transmitted. Until the (debatable) poll published in the JDD that places him behind the RN candidate in the first round.

Despite the headwinds, he continues to play the Mr. Everyman card, even if it means using big strings to stage himself under the gaze of photographers. pushing his cart through the aisles of a Leclerc Of the circus

It sounds silly but it works with people., not with journalists or elected officials, ensures an elected LREM. He is not afraid of ridicule, he is not stuffy. It’s fundamental”.

“In the ministry they had my skin”

I return to Courtenay. The former minister makes slalom between the inhabitants who want a selfie or say hello”schools that remained open during Covidand a woman who harshly criticizes him for his law restricting homeschooling.

Without forget competitors who have made it a target of choice. On this occasion, it is about a former yellow vest, a “citizen” candidate, who managed to capture the confrontation on film, and then post it on social networks. “You only know how to do that, he yells at him! And stop filming!” annoys Jean-Michel Blanquer, in return.

“It changes you, the Loiret, they shake you!”, the apostrophe of a resident. “In the ministry it was daily: they had my skin but I was the one who stayed the longest.”

This day, it is Emmanuel Macron who puts it to the test. “Blanquer refused to be head of the regional list, rewinds a majority deputy. According to advisers to the Elysee, the president essentially told him: “For the legislative elections, you will go where I finished third.”

The Paris parachute landing will be at a reasonable distance from the capital. “The Loiret departmental referent of the LREM proposed Pithiviers or Montargis, deciphers Hugo Lemaître. Pithiviers, it would have been more complicated, the right is less divided there. He was determined to come here, this territory suits him.

“Learns fast”

30 minutes from Courtenay, cigarette at the corner of his mouth, Jean Bertaud, Mayor of Dordives, 3,300 inhabitants. The field barometer of candidate Blanquer. His rural adviser. “I also had a somewhat rigid image of him, but he left the ministerial chair, today we are close, I advise him, I present him to the citizens, to the businessmen. He is very attentive, learns quickly..”

“And you know, 70% of the population here comes from Île-de-France. So the skydiving stories…”

Jean-Michel Blanquer inaugurating his tenure with his substitute.

He is also one of those who have cleared the dissenting candidacy of an elected official Horizontes – party of Édouard Philippe – who judged Blanquer’s “abracadabrantesque“…before becoming his understudy a few days later.

“Blanquer has little space but will lose”prophesied a local representative of the majority, aware that a defeat would signify his political end.

“We are not immune to a surprise!”tempers another, more optimistic. “He is a man of experience, of networks. And that also leaves a side ‘He, at least, comes to see us’. People can feel flattered to have a former minister who represents them…”

Your competitors in the 4th district of the Loiret : Olivier Rohaut (citizen); Dominique Clergue (LO); Philippe Moreau (ex-LR); Silvia Lechevalier; Bruno Nottin (Nupes-PCF); Thomas Menage (RN); Ariel Levy (L-R); Alexandre Cuignache (Reconquest); Romain D’Isoard de Chenerilles (Animalist Party).

Florent Buisson with Alexandre Charrier and Nicolas Da Cunha

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