Everything seems ready. The Marine Le Pen campaign poster has been stripped of the tricolor flame logo and will be printed, according to the management of the National Rally (RN), in 500,000 copies. Who, now, will stick it everywhere in France? And who will distribute the leaflets? If each departmental federation should receive 5,000 documents on average, no one knows “What is planned to ensure real distribution”, worries a national framework. On the eve of the presidential election, Marine Le Pen leaves behind a party in great suffering: disappointed by the municipal authorities, struck down by the regional ones, many RN activists no longer believe in it and admit to being resigned to another failure.

If the party still claims 83,000 “Members and sympathizers”, they would in reality hardly be more than 20,000, according to corroborating sources, after a tumble difficult to stop since 2017. But it is especially the flight of the executives which concerns the staff. The interim elections, presented for four years as a stepping stone to the Elysee Palace, were the last straw. The resignations of departmental officials have multiplied: those of Jura, Territoire de Belfort, Deux-Sèvres, Charente, Ariège, Hérault, Lot, Drôme slammed the door before the summer , taking part of their team with them. About twenty federations are in ruins, sometimes without any official representative. If Occitania appears to be the most affected region, the phenomenon is national.

The local establishment of the RN has shrunk by a third in the regions (252 elected in June against 358 in 2015) and by more than half in the departments (26 councilors elected against 62 in 2015). The electoral poor performance has a lot to do with it, but the turnover policy has not helped. According to the review Polemia, founded by Jean-Yves Le Gallou, a former executive of the National Front (former name of the RN) now far removed from the party, 75% of the regional councilors elected in 2015 were not reappointed by the RN in 2021. In the Pays de la Loire, the FN had obtained 13 elected in 2015 – none of the outgoing candidates could represent themselves. Only 15 outgoing elected representatives remain out of the 40 in the Occitanie regional council; 4 out of 24 in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, 3 in the Center.

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To analyse : Regional elections: the underperformance of the National Rally under the magnifying glass

These regional advisers were, however, to represent the “backbone of the party”, and testify to its establishment and professionalization. But a hundred elected officials left the RN between 2016 and 2021 and this permanent rotation, imposed by the headquarters, allows Marine Le Pen to break the baronies and keep control of the device. “By generating 75% dissatisfaction among its own troops, relief Polémia, the RN feeds a real reserve army of fallen militants who will not fail to resume the fight outside the RN, as soon as an alternative political offer arises. ” More and more of them are turning to Eric Zemmour. “Each time, we start from zero at the local level”, chokes Franck Gaillard, 46, a former regional elected representative of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, angry with the party he had joined at the age of 16.

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