He is a man with a pale complexion and very pale election results.
But the summer, and especially the recent demonstrations against the health pass seem to give color to Florian Philippot.
The former number 2 of the National Front, at the head of the confidential party Les Patriotes surfs on the protest against the health policy of the government.
And he is counting on this dynamic to put wind in his sails nine months before a presidential election in which he hopes to be able to participate.
Thus this 39-year-old enarque, who had been living politically since his departure from the FN (became RN) almost four years ago, is back on the front of the stage. Last week, at the Trocadero, 11,000 people demonstrated, responding, in particular, to his call (they were 160,000 in the country in total). Philippot's small party has been organizing mobilizations against government policy for several months, but the health pass has given the phenomenon a new dimension.
Former champion of the demonization of the Lepenist party, here he is now criticizing "the covidist ideology", "authoritarian", in the name of the defense of freedom, accusing without blinking the policy of the government of "tyranny", treating Emmanuel Macron of "Psychopathic", flattering the popular anger of part of the population and flirting with conspiracy. All without departing from its sovereignist credo, the heart of the Patriots' ideology. On Wednesday, he also went to Italy to encourage the transalpine mobilization. One observation, in any case: if the demonstrations are extremely heterogeneous, Philippot saw his own counters explode: some 230,000 subscribers on YouTube, and 25,000 members claimed to the Patriots (against 2,000 in January 2020). What to give it electoral wings?
"For him it's a survival operation"
For Philippot, "it is a question of opportunity, some would say of opportunism", analyzes Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Observatory of radicalities for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.
Philippot is no longer a MEP, and his party lost its regional advisers in the last elections (his list reached 6.95% in the Grand-Est).
“For him it's a survival operation.
He has an opportunity to get back in the saddle, ”continues Camus.
And thus to overshadow his former RN comrades?
If Marine Le Pen pleads indifference, the RN, absent from the processions of demonstrators, also tries to seduce the opponents of the health pass. "Florian Philippot takes the light, but to say that he arouses a support, it is to cross a daring course", loose spokesman RN Laurent Jacobelli for whom "we cannot make the rejection of the mask and the vaccine a program electoral ”. Support of Marine Le Pen, the mayor of Béziers Robert Ménard is more severe: “I do not see him imbecile enough to think what he says. Just there is a niche he wants to take advantage of. But the moral is not saying anything to garner votes. "
How far ? This could certainly help him to gather sponsorships for the presidential election, in particular with the small mayors, estimates Camus. Enough? It is uncertain. But her presence on the starting line would potentially weaken Marine Le Pen, already annoyed by the prospect of a Zemmour candidacy. Florian Philippot will not let go in any case. Question of survival.