With his white glove, the bailiff respectfully designates the bottle of hydroalcoholic gel placed on a pretty piece of varnished wooden furniture. Impossible to access the vast office of the President of the Senate without having carried out a rigorous cleaning of the hands. The danger of the coronavirus is everywhere, it saturates space and consciences. Politicians and women are no exception. Confined, anxious, like other French people.
No.2 of the state that he is, Gérard Larcher is worried about his nonagenarian father, “a good man”, slammed in the room of his Ehpad somewhere in Normandy. With the reduction in mail, he will no longer receive Ouest-France every day, his last link with the world. A concern shared by thousands of other people. Gérard Larcher touched the CEO of Swiss Post last week. At the time of the pandemic, politicians want more than ever to be useful.
Then the parties organize themselves. The Republicans (LR) organized this week their first strategic confinement committee by videoconference. In the midst of an ideological overhaul, LR has also decided to maintain its pre-crisis thematic forums, even if the coronavirus will necessarily be invited in each discussion.
Above all, most political parties rely on their elected officials as so many field sensors to bring up the information and discuss it. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp threads and other GoToMeeting are essential. “It’s more complicated, more tiring and requires being more available. The pace is jerky, there may be days with 4 or 5 conference calls … And others with hollows, almost nothing … “, notes the head of socialist senators, Patrick Kanner.
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“Where I had 10 WhatsApp messages before, I have 50 now,” observes an RN MEP who has chosen to stay in Brussels so as not to be confined with his ex-wife, from whom he has just divorced. Hyperactive, the deputy (LFI) Ugo Bernalicis juggles him, from his house in Lille between written questions to the government, various videoconferences, organization of debates by webcams on artists or cannabis and… his three and a half year old son.
“I try to bring up fairly concrete subjects”
“Please enter the conference number, this is the phrase we hear the most right now. I spend my life on the phone ”, abounds with the boss of LREM, Stanislas Guerini, caught between virtual executive offices of his party, breakfasts of the majority at a distance and Facebook live with the members. “I try to bring up fairly concrete subjects,” he explains.
But some, within the majority, criticize a “service party” side: “At the end of the Second World War, the parties were concerned with launching Amap (Association for the maintenance of peasant agriculture) …” , sighs an LREM parliamentarian. Another, who goes around in circles at home: “At this moment, to have a sense of usefulness, it is better to be a doctor. I hear colleagues say, I’m overwhelmed, we’ve never had such an exhausting streak, but I find it hard to find meaning in my action during the period. “
Like the French, some politicians are blacking out. “We are all petrified, horrified by what is happening to us. Politics, we don’t care a bit, “recognizes Senator LR Pierre Charon. “You shouldn’t listen to the news channels continuously. I watched Sunday evening Grandpa is resisting. It allows you to go to bed without Lexomil! “He smiles.
In this context, group meetings in Parliament serve almost as collective catharsis. “It’s fucked up.” We press a button and the Retailleau head ( Editor’s note: the chairman of the LR group in the Senate ) appears! “Says Pierre Charon who finds his colleagues” much warmer than usual “. At LR, long-distance participation is much stronger than in normal times. It must be said that the right was severely tested by the death of former Minister Patrick Devedjian. The party could not pay tribute to him. “We will do it when the crisis is over,” resolves management.
Group meetings to get news
Group meetings are all opportunities to hear from each other. It was during the last that the deputy of Val-de-Marne Michel Herbillon announced in a conference call that he was cured of the Covid-19. Without hearing the applause: the microphones of the other participants were then cut off. The Marseillaise Valérie Boyer also gave reassuring news and talked about the chloroquine treatment she followed. “They may have overdosed her a bit!” “Laughs a party executive.
Failing to have a parliamentary group, the RN, convokes by videoconference its executive office every 3 or 4 days. A frequency much more sustained than usual while the “Carré” of Nanterre is closed and most of the employees have been laid off. Marine Le Pen, she does not unemployed from her home in La Celle-Saint-Cloud. From her office, she carries out media interventions, consults from a distance the “Horaces”, her group of experts, says she is “in regular contact with doctors” on the health crisis.
“I have rarely had so many activities, time flies faster,” she philosophizes. “Besides, I’m with my cats and my garden, so I’m fine.” In March, it’s time to plant, ”added the woman, who intends to make her attacks on the government bear fruit. Opponent number 1 to Macron is listing the results of his errors. The white drunk she was preparing before on the fraud may well “wait two or three months”. Is she worried about the health of her father, who is also in her nineties? “I made sure he respected confinement,” she replies. But I don’t give him any advice. He would be able to do the opposite! “