Municipal in 2020 in Marseille: “Everything is possible”, according to this specialist political scientist

MUNICIPALS – There has already been a “Marseille” series on Netflix, but it was certainly less hectic than the one currently playing in Marseille. After surprise municipal elections where Michèle Rubirola, unknown to the general public, came largely in the lead (39.9%) in the second round with her “Printemps Marseille”, a mixture of leftist and civil society parties, the LR candidate, Martine Vassal signs a historic failure for the Marseille right-wing in place for 25 years of Gaudin management.

But as in a good scenario, nothing is still sealed after two episodes. Before the election of the mayor scheduled for this Saturday, July 4 and which constitutes the “third round”, Samia Ghali, senator and mayor of the northern districts who has broken with the PS has become despite her 2.9% of the vote, queen-maker .

5 episodes and a 2nd season

It was counting without the following episode, the fourth, in which Martine Vassal, in a mixture of political weakening and political strategy gives way to Guy Teissier, 75-year-old MP who could reunite the divided right and rally advisers of the National Gathering. Another candidate who did not like another LR candidate, Lionel Royer-Perreaut, who announces, and this is the fifth episode, to run two days before the vote.

Without forgetting, and it is a new season which begins, the war which fought, Friday July 3, Samia Ghali and Michèle Rubirola to try to find an agreement. One claiming the post of first assistant, the second refusing “any blackmail”.

The suspense therefore remains intact and in Marseille, “everything is possible”, as Nicolas Maisetti sums it up, cpolitical science researcher at Gustave Eiffel University (East Paris). For this fine connoisseur of the city, author of the book Marseille, city of the world (Karthala editions), the soap that is played on the Canebière is nothing new. For The HuffPost, the expert dissects the stakes of this vote, looks back at the surprise polls that have punctuated the political history of the city and deconstructed the clichés associated with Marseille by trying to “trivialize the look we give him ”.

From Paris, we have the feeling that this municipal election in Marseille is out of the ordinary. Do you share this vision?

Often when we talk about Marseille, we present the subject mentioned as “unique and singular”. I think we have to manage to trivialize the look on this city and observe the heavy trends. This second round is not so much of a surprise, in the sense that we felt that the forces involved were fairly balanced. It is more the configuration of the third round which is one. We imagined two equivalent blocks, the LR of Martine Vassal and the Printemps marseillais of Michèle Rubirola with a National Rally as arbiter. It did not happen at all.

What happened then?

The ballot showed the instability of the power in place for 25 years. Martine Vassal is the heir to an assessment which is not positive. Objective facts show it: the city’s public finances are not good as illustrated by the reports of the regional chamber of accounts and the weight of the debt, the results in terms of economic development are not there … When he talks about his results, Jean-Claude Gaudin evokes achievements that elude him: the Euromediterranean development operation is the State; the European Capital of Culture, it is the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the renovation of the seafront, it is rather the State with the Mucem for example or private initiatives, such as the Terrasses du Harbor.

“Gaudin’s balance sheet is above all the rue d’Aubagne”

Its balance sheet, above all, is rue d’Aubagne. We will remember. Of course the 8 dead, but also the management of the crisis, the disastrous communication and the total negligence of the City’s services in making and assuming decisions. There was also contempt for the movements and mobilizations that were structured at that time.

It is also from here that the Marseilles Spring was born, arriving at the head of the second round …
Yes. Le Printemps marseillais tried to go beyond the traditional left parties. Their members have managed to put their labels aside, or to promote them otherwise by meeting with civil society. It was not easy: Last fall, EELV presented an autonomous list while the socialist Benoît Payan was suspected of wanting to place himself at the head of the lists.

The choice of Michèle Rubirola, herself an ecologist – she was temporarily suspended by EELV when she preferred the Printemps Marseille to the Debout Marseille list supported by her party – was able to create a dynamic. Although elected since 2008, it represents a form of renewal of local political life. If she is elected, it will be necessary to observe the test of power, because in a campaign of alternation, the theme of change is easy to embody. The populations will be very vigilant.

“If she is elected”, say yourself. Because Michèle Rubirola, despite having 10 points ahead, is not sure to be mayor of Marseille. Is it democratic?

Democracy has no other meaning than the rules of the political game give it. One could also wonder if being elected with less than 30% of registered voters is democratic … From the point of view of political legitimacy in any case, it doesn’t make sense. Although widely criticized at the moment and often rightly so, the Paris-Lyon-Marseille law which sets the rules for indirect voting at the central town hall has a function: it allows the representation of districts within the municipal council. On the other hand, in fact, it opens the door to arrangements and coalitions, even if democracy is also accommodation and arrangements…

How do you analyze the results of the first and second rounds of this election?

That Martine Vassal loses her sector of 6-8, the stronghold of Jean-Claude Gaudin, is a double defeat: it is a historic stronghold and it heads the list at the central level. Le Printemps marseillais has undoubtedly created a dynamic, by bringing together elected officials from various parties and members of civil society. In reality, there was not really a campaign. Martine Vassal refused the debate which was proposed for example. Let us not forget the abstention which mainly concerned the right and far right electorates. Stéphane Ravier (RN candidate, Editor’s note) has lost his husband, so probably also his seat in the senatorials. It was a terrible failure for him.

It is this “double failure” of Martine Vassal which led her to withdraw in favor of Guy Teissier who will present himself at the central town hall in his place?

Three factors explain the fact that Martine Vassal is not in a position to appear. First, his loss of legitimacy due to his personal defeat in the 6th and 8th arrondissement. Secondly, these are probably the calculations that were made in his camp to reach the famous bar of 51 votes during the election of the mayor with possible rallies of the RN. Finally, pressure from her camp made her understand that she had to withdraw.

And then, suddenly, another LR candidate comes in addition to Guy Teissier, Lionel Royer-Perreaut. It makes no sense…

Guy Teissier is 75 years old, it is important to note this for the future. In the 1970s, he was a member of a fascist organization, the Forces Nouvelles party. He had important functions in the first two terms of Jean-Claude Gaudin and presided over the urban community between 2014 and 2017. He is a deputy, he is anchored in the 9th and 10th arrondissements, to the southeast.

No doubt some in his camp argued that he was better able to rally the votes of the RN needed to elect the right-wing mayor. Hence the surprise candidacy of Lionel Royer Perreaut who opposes such an alliance as other right-wing councilors, especially since the Marseille RN is very close to the ideas of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

“All hypotheses are possible, even those that we forget!”

With a divided right, is the left sure to win on Saturday?

All hypotheses are possible, even those that we do not think of. During the first ballot, 51 votes must be gathered. Michèle Rubirola has 42, Samia Ghali 8. Supposing she fills up among the elected representatives from the Ghali lists, she would therefore not reach the majority.

For their part, the “Vassal” lists, represented by the candidacy of Guy Tessier, have 39 seats. To see if all will be on Guy Tessier or if a part would go to Lionel Royer-Perrault (if it continues). The RN obtained 9 municipal councilors and its leader called for a “Marseille Pact” seeming ready to rally to Guy Tessier.

Finally, Bruno Gilles’ lists (DVD) obtained 3 elected officials, but one of them, from the left, has already indicated that it would not follow the voting instructions of its leader. If therefore, at the end of the first round, no candidate succeeds in obtaining 51 votes, a second ballot is organized with the same rules.

If the absolute majority is still not reached, a third and final round is organized, this time with the relative majority rule. The designated winner is the one who wins the highest number of votes. Finally, note that Guy Tessier could be elected to the benefit of age in the event of a tie at the end of this third round. An argument put forward by Martine Vassal herself when she announced her withdrawal.

In a few days there were a lot of twists and turns, the 3rd round is more uncertain than ever…

Voting takes place by secret ballot, which fuels uncertainty. But there are precedents. In 2008, Renaud Muselier was almost guaranteed to take the head of the Urban Community, because he had a comfortable right-wing majority. But a party ultimately voted against him, so as not to leave his hands free too much and because there was a cleavage of the peripheral municipalities against the central town hall. Except that they were many to think like that and it is the candidate on the left who acceded to the Presidency of the urban community until 2014! We could also go back to 1965, when Gaston Defferre, who came third in the municipal election, was finally elected through a coalition game. It was before the PLM law. In Marseille, everything is possible!

“When there is a crime in Marseille, it is the city that becomes the perpetrator”

This election was also marked by serious suspicions of fraud … Is this something recurrent in Marseille?

It happens in many places… Remember the ballot papers hidden in socks in Perpignan in 2008! What is singular is the way we look at Marseille. An ordinary phenomenon, since it takes place in Marseille takes on a particular dimension.

When there is a crime in Marseille, it is the city which becomes the author of the act. At the start of the biggest corruption scandal of the 1930s, the Stavisky affair, we find a scam at the municipal credit of Bayonne. Have we heard of the “Bayonne scandal”? No. If it had happened in Marseille, it would have been something else…

Why do we associate Marseille with political “shenanigans”?

We were talking about the balance sheet of the right earlier, we could talk about that of the local PS for 25 years: the Guérini cases, Sylvie Andrieux sentenced to 3 years in prison, including 2 suspended, the Bouches-du socialist federation -Rhône regularly questioned, with that of the North, for fraud during congresses … But one of the worst municipal scandals in France concerns the fictitious jobs of the town hall of Paris. Is Paris associated with this scandal? No. And Levallois? And Courbevoie? In Marseille, the same characteristics always return: dirty, corrupt and mismanaged. Each country has a city with which we associate the same prejudices.

See also on The HuffPost: In Marseille, eight minutes of silence in tribute to the victims of the rue d’Aubagne