The thousand and one tricks of the candidates to collect the 500 signatures

It is a sort of chestnut tree of the presidential campaigns. Several “big” candidates have indicated these days that they are struggling to obtain the 500 signatures – from mayors, but not only – necessary to be on the starting line. Eric Zemmour, who seems to be on the spot with 300 pledges of sponsorship – as much as in December – appealed to the Association of Mayors of France. Marine Le Pen said “struggle”. Finally, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who cannot rely this year on communist networks, even split a press conference to worry about the situation.

“It costs us a lot of money, we devote two or three people to it,” explained the rebellious candidate, indignant at the rule of 500 signatures which has existed since 1981 (before, only 100 sponsorships were necessary). Campaign teams who do not have a large network of elected officials must indeed “invest” on the subject. Unlike Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo and Emmanuel Macron, who have nothing to worry about, or Fabien Roussel, who will benefit from the many elected Communists still in office. And even among environmentalists, often struggling just a few years ago, there shouldn’t be a problem this time around.

Activists involved

For the others, it is the “obstacle course”, as the campaign director of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Anne Boissel, puts it. The sovereignist candidate, who passed the “cut” in 2012 and 2017, truly began his search for signatures “two to three months ago. But a first letter to the mayors had already left more than a year ago ”. At François Asselineau, who obtained his 500 initials in 2017, the work even began “more than two years ago”, indicates his entourage. “About a hundred people tour in France, François Asselineau himself travels. The direct sellers are even trained by a national coordinator. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan who also made “trips all year round”.

There are about 44,000 people who have sponsorship power. The approximately 35,000 mayors therefore, but also departmental, regional or territorial advisers, and parliamentarians. Theoretically, there is room for many candidates. “But the problem is not competition, it is that the mayors do not sponsor enough”, laments the campaign manager of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. If we are to believe the entourage of François Asselineau, only 14,000 people sponsored a candidate in 2017: “And again, the ” big candidates ” have thousands of sponsors, which dries up the pool even more. “

Elected officials difficult to access

Beyond the fact that without the publication of the list of sponsorships, “there would be no problem” to obtain them, “there is a fed up with politics among citizens but also among elected officials. . And it is growing, ”observes Anne Boissel, who herself served for two terms. “Sometimes the secretaries of the town hall have instructions so as not to pass directly the mayor to the volunteers who are looking for sponsors”, she indicates. According to the campaign teams consulted, it is better to play the local card: a mayor will have a better chance of responding favorably if it is an activist or a local volunteer who calls or goes to meet him. “The ‘phonings’ or the ready-made language elements don’t work. “

Obviously, that’s how it works at Lutte Ouvrière. The small party of Nathalie Arthaud has systematically had a candidate in the first round of the presidential election since 1974. The candidate’s entourage will not tell us if there is a particular secret, just will we know that the activists and activists maintain “a human, personal link” with local elected officials. “Even if it is tenuous,” we are told. At François Asselineau and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan too, the teams maintain links with elected officials who have already sponsored.

Eric Zemmour’s team, for which this is the first candidacy, has announced that it has developed an “algorithm” to “prioritize” the elected representatives to canvass. The tool “crosses the size of cities, sponsorships in 2017, the territory. Typically, we target towns of less than 1,000 inhabitants who had given their sponsorship to Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen and Fillon, ”said the candidate’s sponsorship manager, Dénis Cieslik, to AFP.

The bunny and the turtle

Once you’ve managed to get an appointment, how do you convince? We will rather have to talk about democracy and diversity of political offer than of the candidate’s program. “We must explain to them that they will offer an additional choice to the voters”, explain Anne Boissel and the others. But there is no rule. “Things are done according to the feeling. A mayor who will be more willing to talk politics, we will talk to him more about the program, ”she says.

In any case, the “small” candidates are a little annoyed to see the Zemmour, Mélenchon and Le Pen complain and ask for a change of the rule in the middle of the ford. “The system has many drawbacks, it is difficult, but it is the law, pinches the entourage of François Asselineau. To govern is to foresee: these people think that they will get the signatures only by being propelled by the media. These people believe that the state and the law are at their discretion. We have been putting the means for more than two years. The search for sponsorships would therefore be first and foremost an exercise in patience rather than a bang? Not sure: Wednesday, during the “Presidential Live” of 20 Minutes and LCI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon announced to have seen the signing pledges arrive after his call on Monday.

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