Arnaud Benedetti is associate professor at Paris-Sorbonne University. He is editor-in-chief of the political and parliamentary review. He published Le coup de com 'permanent (éd. Du Cerf, 2018) in which he details Emmanuel Macron's communication strategies, as well as La Fin de la com' (éd. Du Cerf, 2017).
FIGAROVOX.- What to remember from this sequence of crises? Did Benjamin Griveaux have any other choice than to withdraw?
Arnaud BENEDETTI.- He was faced with two options: indignation or contrition, American style. He chose an intermediate route immediately: a form of indignation at the attacks on his private life, but by withdrawing he accredits the veracity of the video and the inappropriate behavior which was revealed. His campaign already heavily "sealed" by bad polls did not allow him to hold out. This sacrificial withdrawal aims first to preserve the “En Marche” brand. As in chess, you have to know how to lose a piece. We imagine that the higher authorities of the majority may have left him no other choice.
The withdrawal of his candidacy therefore allows him an exit from the top?
Considering the facts, his campaign would have been even more inaudible than it already was if he had not withdrawn. How to continue when the seriousness expected of a candidate was so damaged by a video as destructive to the image? Even if the French spirit accommodates marivaudage, there is a moment when consistency is essential. You cannot put forward your family life and in addition be confronted with a denial of this one by behaviors likely to break the idyllic portrait which you give of it. All the more so when you are trying to conquer a conservative electorate, which was the case.
The process is nonetheless infamous, and it must be denounced! But it is unfortunately frighteningly effective in its destructive capacity because these exchanges of messages which have been revealed, if the facts are proven, indicate an immature recklessness with regard to what is expected from the responsibility of a leader.His whole campaign was polluted by a halo of bad impressions.
In terms of political communication, Benjamin Griveaux's efforts to appear original since the start of the campaign have often turned against him ...
Benjamin Griveaux's main opponent was himself. He wears asperities, rightly or wrongly, linked in particular to his past as a spokesperson for the government which infected his image. His whole campaign was polluted by a halo of bad impressions. He endeavored to break this reputation by an overplayed com and sometimes disproportionate proposals (the relocation of the Gare de l'Est, the 100,000 euros to acquire housing ...). The more the communicants took power in his campaign, the more it turned into a desperate rescue business. The pathetic won. It is cruel for the candidate, but it is even more terrible for the professionals of the com 'who showed there that they were the craftsmen, even the accelerators of an announced debacle.
Read also: Griveaux's startling contempt for "guys who smoke cigarettes and run on diesel"
What will be the impact of this curious sequence on the continuation of the campaign?
Politically, at the time when I answer you, the question which arises is to know who will lead the walkers to Paris, city which sociologically was acquired to them. The Griveaux accident also highlights the poor preparation of the majority party, which however had two years to develop a strategy for the municipal election.The amateurism claimed by Emmanuel Macron turns against his own camp.
The amateurism claimed by the President of the Republic during his address to the parliamentarians of his majority turned dramatically against his own camp. There is no freshness or innocence in politics, which remains, as Weber wrote, a matter for professionals. A posteriori, the dismissal of Villani appears as a tactical error fraught with consequences. An experienced politician would have let the situation settle until the evening of the first round. In all cases, the cards are inevitably redistributed, with a potential call for air for Rachida Dati because the electorate of Griveaux contained a center-right component, opposed to social-ecology, may be tempted to to return, in this sequence of high turbulences, to the republican "old house".
And on the relationship of the French with the political world?
It's a break! It is the victory of the underground of the social networks on the com ', an additional illustration of what I called "the end of the com". It didn't take overnight for digital pruritus to reach mainstream media. It goes without saying that this does not go in the direction of strengthening confidence in politics. In a socially exhausted society, the personal behavior of leaders is a key factor in appeasing crises. We live in permanent earthquakes which erode more and more the legitimacy of the leaders. When the private life of the public figure becomes the subject of controversy, this reflects a collapse in the quality of public debate - it is a fact, especially in a country whose honor was, unlike the Anglo-Saxons, to respect border. But we still have to ask the question: why did we get there?