VIDEO – TO-five days to the first round of the socialist primaries, the violent actions aimed at the one that carries the legacy of the quinquennium, could mark a turning point in the candidature of the former prime minister, according to experts in political communication.
The act is not unprecedented in the history of the Fifth Republic, but it illustrates the tension that causes Manuel Valls. Travelers in Brittany, the candidate for the primary of the left received a slap in the face Tuesday night from an activist committed to the cause of regional breton. This event could play a role in preparation for the first round of the primary, this Sunday, according to Philippe Moreau Chevrolet* and Philippe J. Maarek**, two experts in political communication, interviewed by Le Figaro.
• The image of a candidate fragile and humiliated
according To Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, this gesture is a turning point for the politician. He compares it to another slap, this time in 2002: François Bayrou had given a slap to a child who was trying to make the pockets during the presidential campaign. At the time, the French had hailed a mark of authority. The candidate had gained in legitimacy to finish 4th in the first round. Conversely, the action of the young Breton is humiliating: “The candidate goes to a fragile person, who cannot protect themselves. For the former first cop of France, it is a slap in the face both literally and figuratively.”
Manuel Valls has quickly tried to put things in perspective: “there are those who challenge democracy, and those who embody it, such as politicians. Democracy may not be the violence.” “It has sought to decentralise the action and to defuse by saying that it was the State that was referred to, adds the expert in political communication. He could not in any way respond with violence. However, Manuel Valls was the target.”
• A reaction to the unpopularity of the five-year term
“He is stuck in the past, is nothing new.”
according To Philippe J. Maarek, “Manuel Valls has not managed to detach himself from the unpopularity of the quinquennium of Francois Hollande.” If it is no longer prime minister since 6 December last year, it still represents the government in the collective imagination. “He is stuck in the past, does not represent anything new,” says Philippe Moreau Chevrolet. The candidate for the primary of the Belle alliance remains a popular figure of unpopular measures, in particular the law work. Moreover, the violence of the slap, the majority of users said that the 49-3 was at least as violent.
• a Symbol of the elite rejected
Philippe J. Maarek of the opinion that if this affront physical is rare, it is “representative of the climate, populist current.” He said: “The aggressor rejects a part of the democratic process, since it aims to prevent a candidate from campaigning, critical period where the citizen has a role to play.” In his eyes, this illustrates “the exasperation of a part of the population”.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which “condemns the physical assault in politics,” on his account Facebook, Gilbert Collard, who on Twitter considers this event “outrageous”, the entire political class seems to be unanimous to condemn the gesture of the militant breton. This union may just be a double-edged sword, and legitimize the thought of “all the same”.
• A level of violence which goes crescendo
In 2008, recalls Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, when a man has refused the handshake, Nicolas Sarkozy, in which the candidate of the UMP will meet the now famous “Casse-toi, pauv’ con”, as distrust was in the refusal of communication. Today, physical contact with the human policy is crossed. If the enfarinage or the formation of scale remain in the realm of the farce, according to the experts, the slap up a new cap in the aggression against representatives of the State.
“other people who wish to have a media effect important may reproduce these actions.”
And Philippe J. Maarek believes that, in this context, further events are to be expected: “Given the virality of the video of Manuel Valls in Lamballe on social networks and YouTube, other people who wish to have a media effect important may reproduce these actions.” Already on Wednesday morning, a listener of France Inter has arrested the former prime minister:”Hi Manu, I don’t know if you find it normal or not. The slap, I think that it is 66 million to want you to put it.” J. Philippe Maarek questioned, moreover, “One may ask of what act would have been capable opponents of president François Hollande if the president had gone back on campaign.”
* Philippe Moreau Chevrolet is a professor of political communication at sciences Po and president of MCBG Conseil.
** Philippe J. Maarek is a professor of political communication at the University Paris est-UPEC, and author of Communication and marketing of the politician, in LexisNexis (2014).