In Saint-Denis, the inhabitants have the impression of having had to choose between the plague and cholera

That was to be expected. At 8 p.m., the appearance of Emmanuel Macron’s face on television screens, after the traditional countdown, did not thrill the crowds in Saint-Denis. None of the bars facing the Basilica broadcast election night. Three friends, seated at the Basilica, had turned up the sound of their smartphone, connected to the election evening, thus allowing the tables around to be kept informed. But after a few exchanges, hardly enthusiastic – “it’s going to be hot in five years”, anticipated some, “we must rebuild the left”, pressed another -, all quickly returned to their conversation. About the Rue de la République, the city’s main shopping street which washes up on the forecourt of the Basilica, she remained very calm, she who was so lively in the morning, for the market.

Quiet in front of the TV

Some Dionysians pushed “eggs” of relief. It is in any case the reaction that expected to have Marvin, big guy of 21 years, crossed at the town hall, in the middle of the afternoon, where he had just voted. “I couldn’t do it in the first round, but I would have voted Mélenchon,” he says. This Sunday, on the other hand, I came by civic duty, to prevent Marine Le Pen, whose ideas I fight, from passing. “A Macron vote by default therefore. “To say the least worse,” he says. But as soon as the results were announced, the student thought he would quickly move on to something else. “It’s my birthday, I gathered some friends to party in Paris,” he says. For the rest of the Dionysians crossed this Sunday, the announced program was always the same: “calm in front of the TV”, without daring to imagine what could happen if Marine Le Pen passed. But no one was planning to take to the streets to celebrate a victory for Emmanuel Macron either.

At the same time, Mohammed had warned, at midday. “The candidate here is Jean-Luc Mélenchon,” recalled this executive in the logistics sector, 59 years old. In this cosmopolitan and working-class city of nearly 113,000 inhabitants, which has 47,382 registered voters, 33.89% abstained from going to the polls on April 10 for the first round. A percentage above the national average. As for the votes cast, they were massively to the candidate of France Insoumise who collected 61.13% voices cast. That is almost 18 points more than in 2017. Only Villetaneuse, in Seine-Saint-Denis, will give him even more votes (65%) in a department where the LFI candidate won if not nearly one in two votes.

Mohammed, 59, an executive in the logistics sector, has lived in Saint-Denis for 32 years. This Sunday morning, he went to vote. Out of duty – – F. Pouliquen/20 Minutes

The vote for Mélenchon, not just a simple political calculation

Surprising? Not really, says Alexis, met at the exit of the market. “Just look at the posters stuck in the city, invites the 25-year-old Breton, who has been living in Saint-Denis for only a year. Here, there are only Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Fabien Roussel, Philippe Poutou or Nathalie Arthaud. It should also be remembered that Saint-Denis was a communist municipality from the Liberation until July 2020 and the election at its head of the Socialist Mathieu Hanotin. Precisely, this is perhaps the only surprise for Cathy, an activist in the New anti-capitalist partyposted this morning in the rue de la République to sell the newspaper L’Anticapitaliste, whose front page urged not to give any voice to Le Pen. “I didn’t think Fabien Roussel would get more votes [2,25 % contre 2,28 % au niveau national] and therefore Jean-Luc Mélenchon less, ”she slips. “He certainly took advantage of the” useful vote “”, advances Emilie, activist at Libertarian Communist Union (UCL) who towed by his side.

But Sarah refuses to have her Mélenchon vote summed up in a simple political calculation. “If he scored so well in Saint-Denis, it is also because he is the one who defends minorities the most, stigmatizes religions the least when many others have gone on a loop on this subject. during the campaign, ”says this 20-year-old Staps student, who came to vote with her mother, Nora, and her big sister, Ines. Same speech for Mohammed who would have liked to see Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the second round. “Wednesday evening’s debate would have had a completely different look,” he assures us, barely hiding his sadness.

79.09% of votes cast for Macron

The disappointment of the first round passed, the whole question then was how the many Dionysians who voted for the candidate of France Insoumise, on April 10, were going to react this Sunday? A major challenge that will push Emmanuel Macron to go to the city of kings on Thursday to try to seduce this electorate, he who had gleaned 16.22% of the votes cast in the first round. From 4 p.m., Christophe Rodrigues, administrative manager of the polling station located at the Jean-Vilar school, in the city center, had little doubt about a first lesson from this second round. “All the first-time voters that we saw numerous in the first round, these young people aged 18-20 who gave their votes mainly to Mélenchon, moved much less today, he noted. He expected a 10% drop in turnout at his polling station.

At 10:30 p.m., the results finally fall. With a participation of 56.03%, abstention remains the big winner of the evening. Otherwise, Emmanuel Macron stands out with 79.09% of the votes cast. Again, Mohammed and Cathy expected it. In a cosmopolitan city, with a largely immigrant population, it was unthinkable for Marine Le Pen to collect many votes, or for many Dyonisiens to take the risk of seeing the National Rally candidate pass by not going to vote, analyze they both. Some, all the same, did not have the heart to choose this Sunday. Like Bruno, a 60-year-old lawyer, who voted Mélenchon in the first round. “Between the plague and cholera, I couldn’t choose,” he says. Ines, Sarah’s older sister, also voted blank. “I could even have voted Marine Le Pen, her idea of ​​ending the assistantship in France rather pleased me, she begins. But it has gone much too far in its stigmatization of religions, the Muslim religion in particular. »

“I prefer to go to a demonstration against Macron than against Le Pen”

The other Dionysians crossed this Sunday did like Malvin: they gave their voice to the outgoing president. “But out of spite,” insists Nora, anything but satisfied with Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term. “His policies have contributed to widening the gap between the richest classes of French society and all the others, including the middle class. In Saint-Denis as elsewhere, we really feel the French resigned today. “Many things displeased me in this last five-year period where, very quickly, the economy prevailed over the social, abounds Solenn, who cites the management of the pension file, the severe cuts in hospital budgets, universities or even the lack of attention paid to the world of culture, in which she works. “We never talked about it, moreover, in the countryside,” she laments. But hey, she continues, “I still prefer to go down in protest against Emmanuel Macron than against Marine Le Pen”. This is also what Kheira, creative director in the field of advertising, says. She also did not vote lightheartedly for Emmanuel Macron. “But I didn’t feel, however, that I had to choose between the plague and cholera,” she said, careful not to trivialize the National Rally.

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