March 22, 2023

Accusations of cheating, collapsing alliance, SMS at the end of the night: how did Olivier Faure go from the position of ultra-favorite to endless negotiations? Story of the days of crisis which almost killed the PS.

The eruption four months before the deadline of a third candidate, the mayor of Rouen Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, has raised the stakes in the announced duel between Olivier Faure and his historic competitor Hélène Geoffroy, mayor of Vaulx-en-Velin .

After a bitterly contested first vote, after which Hélène Geoffroy joined “NMR” on a Nupes-skeptical line, the ballot for the first secretary, on January 19, turned into a fiasco.

The elected Norman and the deputy of Seine-et-Marne announce their victory almost simultaneously, around 1:30 am. Journalists juggle from one videoconference to another, with the impression of being manipulated.

“It feels like a bad thriller”, sums up one of them. Each side unpacks the “scandalous” incidents of the ballot, from the box of shoes used as a ballot box to a virulent scrutineer expelled by the municipal police.

The mayor of Rouen goes so far as to pronounce the word “prison”. “We went very far in anything,” sighs a deputy.

Direction Marseille where, from a congress by Zoom and Twitter interposed, the protagonists spend Friday at “the physical reality” of a gathering of activists, at the Palais du Pharo.

“In reality, we do not inveigh in the same way, people pull themselves together”, explains negotiator Sébastien Vincini, Faure’s support.

Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol sees his position crumble: Hélène Geoffroy refuses that his camp serves as an auxiliary and assumes not to appear in the direction.

“It’s more difficult to negotiate when you’re at 30% than at 50%”, the total number of votes for the two motions opposed to Olivier Faure, analyzes a tenor from the National Assembly.

Hélène Geoffroy will obtain the presidency of the party’s parliament. The sequence “made a mess at Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol”, sneers a manager.

– Revelation –

But the current Refondations has resources, and forces the Faure camp to play extra time during the night. From the vaulted basement rooms to the more official floors of the Palace overlooking the Old Port, the negotiators then tied the essentials of the “pact”: Olivier Faure will be first secretary and Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol first deputy secretary, as well as Johanna Rolland, the mayor of Nantes, close to the outgoing management.

No sooner had they left each other, around 4 a.m., than the mayor of Rouen sent an SMS to demand a more balanced direction. Negotiations will have to resume.

The next day, “NMR” will tell that he had a revelation: “Starting from the night negotiations at the Pharo, I said to myself that it was difficult to maintain a height of view and to resist the call of the open sea. ” but I “thought of the 3,000 dead migrants in the Mediterranean and I said to myself how futile our quarrels are”.

Calling from the wide, as the threat of a split in the party loomed over the entire Congress.

To prevent this, behind the scenes, two major characters are active.

The mayor of Marseille Benoît Payan made his public speaking conditional on an agreement. When the negotiations started to skid again on Saturday morning, he came to shake the chips at the protagonists.

– White smoke –

Martine Aubry, for her part, has multiplied calls from Lille to enjoin “those she fed when she was a minister” to agree, says one of them: Anne Hidalgo and Jean-Marc Germain, supporters of “ NMR”, and Olivier Faure all three worked in the office of the city councilor when she was Minister of Labor in the late 90s.

Martine Aubry is familiar with tight congresses since she took the helm of the PS in 2008 after an extremely contested election against Ségolène Royal. But Olivier Faure is forced to proceed differently from an “Aubry who does not synthesize, crushes Royal and takes over in the years that follow the lieutenants of his rival without his agreement”, analyzes the deputy Philippe Brun.

After a complicated morning, Saturday, an agreement is announced, and Olivier Faure tweets the photo of white smoke – but not that of his electronic cigarette, which he never lets go. Activists say they are “relieved”.

A relative of Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol ironically: “We offer you a congress with several seasons, full of suspense and twists”. “There are episodes that we frankly could have spared ourselves”, breathes Johanna Rolland.

The PS is safe, for a time. Jean-François Debat, mayor of Bourg-en-Bresse, smiles: “We can’t die”.

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