“I do not accept that Macron imposes this ‘me or chaos’ on me” – L’Express

I do not accept that Macron imposes this ‘me or

A few days ago, Aurélien Rousseau was preparing for a few job interviews. The score of the National Rally in the European elections, the dissolution announced by Emmanuel Macron, the birth of the New Popular Front… So many events which disrupted the plans of Emmanuel Macron’s former Minister of Health who resigned in December against a backdrop of political disagreement over immigration law. Friday, when the agreement on the left was about to come to fruition, Raphaël Glucksmann called him to suggest that he run as a candidate for the New Popular Front under the label “Place Publique” in the 7th constituency of Yvelines, the one of a certain Michel Rocard. Quite a symbol.

L’Express: Your candidacy under the banner of the New Popular Front surprised your former government comrades. Emmanuel Macron himself joked about your consistency. What do you answer them?

Aurélien Rousseau: In this campaign, my only opponent is the National Rally. I don’t spend my time talking about other people. Perhaps this is a difference with some at Renaissance. It’s never easy to break up, and it doesn’t happen in a hurry. This break dates from the time of the adoption of the immigration law. I could not accept this law, the terms in which it was adopted, nor the majority with which it was voted for, that is to say with the majority of the time, a part of LR and especially the National Rally .

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I left the government because I no longer shared its right-wing orientation. It’s not me who changes posture or line. I understood with the immigration law that my left no longer had the space to exert political influence.

There are, among your new LFI allies, applications which raise questions because these people make comments with anti-Semitic, conspiratorial overtones, others assume to say “the police kill”. Isn’t this pact also a change of line?

The President of the Republic, on the evening of Sunday June 9, made a political choice with dissolution. A choice based on a bet: he thought that the left would not have time to come together and therefore would not have the possibility of qualifying for the second round. He is betting that there is no alternative to Renaissance, that a social democrat will have no other choice than to block it, and therefore to vote for it. Left-wing voters would therefore have taken their responsibilities, as they did twice in 2017 and 2022, to give him a majority. There are people around Emmanuel Macron who still theorize that it is entirely possible to have an absolute majority… Don’t they wonder? This dissolution is not giving the French a voice again, but wanting to once again impose a binary political pattern, me or chaos.

Is this enough to accept the polemical positions of certain LFIs or the words of Jean-Luc Mélenchonwho considers that anti-Semitism is “residual” in France?

The fight against anti-Semitism, wherever it comes from, cannot be negotiated. In my eyes, it is fundamental. We talked a lot with Raphaël Glucksmann, Benoît Payan and Boris Vallaud because we didn’t want to give up anything. An agreement could only exist with clear principles. The commitments of the New Popular Front do not procrastinate!

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Nevertheless, there are still comments these days that are unbearable. Even if they come from a minority, they must be denounced. There is no question of anti-Semites receiving votes. I add that the reasons which lead to presenting a candidate against Jérôme Guedj in Essonne are unacceptable. He has my full support!

A union full of disagreements…

It is a unity of action. The left must come together to exist, to be present in the National Assembly. On July 8, there will be more social democrats in Parliament than there have been until now. No one can believe that we agreed on everything. But unlike others, the left shares a common fight, an insurmountable red line: the RN cannot be tried. We cannot have fun, as some strategists do, by suggesting that the far right would burn out if it were in power before the presidential election.

On the left, many criticize you for being the architect of the pension reform which raises the retirement age to 64 years. Are you ready to repeal it as demanded by the New Popular Front?

If the moment were not so serious, something would make me laugh: certain members of the government, or even François Bayrou, make me the great thinker of this text, like a laboratory technician with his test tubes. It’s ridiculous. This reform was in Emmanuel Macron’s program in 2022. I was chief of staff to Elisabeth Borne, not minister of pension reform. What they don’t say is that I fought to try to find an agreement with the unions, with Laurent Berger. Political and social conditions did not allow this. I don’t have the temperament of a mercenary, one foot in one day, one foot out the other.

I consider that the first battle on the subject of pensions is the preservation of the pay-as-you-go system. We will work again, we will do things differently, with confidence in social democracy, in discussions with the unions. I don’t make leaving at 60 a prerequisite for people like you, journalists, or me. We can help save the system by working more. This is not true for other professions, which are much more difficult. The program of the New Popular Front is the result of a discussion, it is not a copy of that of La France insoumise. In this constituency, I discuss health, housing, purchasing power, education, ecology… these are the subjects that most concern the French. This is why we want to open a path of progress and why we are fighting, united with activists from across the left.

You mention Elisabeth Borne. In the 6th constituency of Calvados, she will be opposed to the rebellious Noé Gauchard, candidate of the New Popular Front. Who do you support?

I am involved in a political alliance. I have a lot of respect for Elisabeth Borne but once again, I do not share the political direction that was taken by the government, hence my resignation in December. There are human adventures, but there are also ideas, political commitments. It matters. The RN’s score in the Europeans, with a significant participation, is a blow to the plexus.

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The argument according to which we must give the French a voice with this dissolution looks like a temptation to get ahead of everyone, and to lead to the implosion of the left and the right. There is another political outlet to offer the French.

What will we have to do on July 8: recompose the left? Prevent Mélenchon? Impose cohabitation on Macron?

I don’t know what July 8 will look like. I am still in a state of astonishment at the threat of the far right. I am even more so when I hear the president denounce the program of the New Popular Front which is supposedly “totally immigrationist”. These are the words of the far right. When we use these terms, when we make an immigration law that goes to this extent on the territory of the RN, we give it ideological legitimacy. This is the furrow that is being traced. One wonders if he and Renaissance have an adversary other than the New Popular Front. This strategy, these positions where everything is mixed and put into perspective, only strengthen the RN. No, not everything is equal. I have no opponents other than the RN. I am a Republican and I will support the Republican candidates who will be opposed to the RN in the second round.