The national secretary of the PCF Fabien Roussel intends to continue to cultivate his singularity, increasingly detached from the Nupes coalition, and to be a candidate for the next presidential election. But he must convert this popularity at the polls, having only achieved 2.28% in 2022.

At 54, Fabien Roussel is riding a new wave: according to an Ifop poll from September 2023, he can boast 44% popularity (like François Hollande), far ahead of the rebellious Jean-Luc Mélenchon (34%).

For the communist, who multiplies the shock phrases, this is proof that his strategy works: “I understand, through what people say to me when I meet them, that if they like me, it’s up to through the messages I sent, the rants.”

Among them, his defense of barbecues against the ecologist Sandrine Rousseau, or his criticism of the “France of benefits”, which provoked a reaction from his allies on the left and aroused the assent of part of the right.

“The labor left at the 2022 Huma Festival, it left its mark,” remembers Fabien Roussel, who reissued the buzz this year, this time calling for “invading” the prefectures, the supermarkets and the gas stations, in a “peaceful” manner, so that the government acts in the face of rising prices.

During his widely applauded speech on Saturday at the Huma festival, he reiterated his call. “I should apologize for calling for mobilizations in front of the prefectures” when “there is a social earthquake in our country today?”, he said.

An initiative far from convincing its Nupes partners, and in particular Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who said he was opposed to “such a level of violence”.

What does it matter for the elected communist, who increasingly sees this coalition as “a straitjacket”, even “a burden” and wants to embody “a new hope on the left” in 2027.

“The number of people who stopped me during the riots to tell me Phew, someone from the left talks like us… That encourages me!”, he explained to the press on Friday.

He also proposed on Saturday to “personally participate in a Robin Hood operation” to switch the supply of electricity to “a maternity ward, a hospital, a school, or an HLM” to off-peak hours. “Let them come and arrest me!” he cried.

His explosive outings could, according to him, ultimately allow him to win in the event of a hypothetical second round against Marine Le Pen. “Maybe right-wing voters would vote for me. If he’s a rebel, never.”

But when asked about how to convert his popularity into votes, the Northern MP jumps in: “I don’t know, by being a candidate perhaps?”

Elected in 2018 at the head of the PCF on a political line of greater autonomy compared to La France insoumise, Fabien Roussel regularly makes his difference with his left-wing partners heard.

On Saturday, he who refuses a common list for Europeans, like EELV, invited “those who seek to join our list. The union list is there”.

For Léon Deffontaines, leader of this list, “we feel that our speech speaks to people who do not see themselves in Jean-Luc Mélenchon”.

But on the Nupes side, criticism is in order: “He chose to embody a form of ministry of speech, with a logic of one-upmanship”, deplores LFI deputy Paul Vannier, who also denounces his initiatives addressed to “a right-wing electorate.

Fabien Roussel is “appreciated”, recognizes a socialist senator. “But people can like someone and not vote for them.”

“He knows that he has no chance of being the candidate of the left and the ecologists, but he thinks that his destiny is to take over the PCF,” adds another socialist leader.

An elected environmentalist agrees: “Fabien confuses notoriety and voting intentions. Nobody thinks that communism is the future of French political life.” And added: “If we have to create unity and there is one who is not there, it is better that it is him.”

09/16/2023 2:55:16 p.m. –        Le Plessis-Pâté (France) (AFP) –        © 2023 AFP