The police hero, the maths genius and more: meet Macron’s new MPs
If Briton’s weren’t so wrapped up in our own great political unravelling, we would be obsessing about developments on the other side of the Channel. Emmanuel Macron’s party La République En Marche, founded little more than a year ago, has won a clear majority in the national assembly – something the Conservative party (founded 182 years earlier) signally failed to manage in the UK. Macron has effected a bloodless revolution, while the UK is mired in political paralysis.
Part of Macron’s appeal is that, rather like the Scottish National party when they swept the board in Scotland in the 2015 general election, he has brought a new set of people into politics. He determined that half his party’s candidates should not previously have been politicians, that they should be younger and more diverse than existing assembly members, and that half the candidates should be women. Macron’s directives have thrown up some intriguing new MPs:
The doyen of the new En Marche parliamentary group is Cédric Villani, a brilliant mathematician with a dandyish penchant for cravats. He triumphed easily in the fifth district of Essonne, south of Paris. Villani, who won the much-prized Fields medal for mathematics in 2010 and is the director of the Institut Henri-Poincaré in Paris, said last month that, if elected, he was ready for a new challenge: “It’s important to make a change from time to time, and in most cases your previous lives will help you in your future life.”
Another high-profile En Marche candidate elected by a sizeable majority was Jean-Michel Fauvergue, who defeated his Republican rival in a constituency to the east of Paris. Fauvergue was formerly the commander of the elite police unit Raid. His unit was part of the force involved in the Bataclan siege – he felt Raid should have been given full control – and he personally directed the assault against the Saint-Denis apartment where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged coordinator of the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015, was in hiding. Abaaoud was killed in the raid.
Hervé Berville is an economist who was born in Rwanda in 1990. He survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994, was adopted by a family in Brittany, studied in Lille and then did a master’s degree in development economics at the London School of Economics. He has been elected to represent a constituency in Brittany, and is seen as part of Macron’s attempt to introduce greater diversity into French politics.
The highest-profile En Marche candidate of them all, retired bullfighter Marie Sara, was beaten by the incumbent National Front MP Gilbert Collard by just 0.3% of the vote in the southern department of Gard, traditionally an NF stronghold. Her defeat is a loss to France’s remarkable new parliament, but Macron hopes he has enough firepower to tackle his country’s deep-seated social and economic problems. Despite Sara’s absence, the radical centrist intends to take the bull by the horns. Again, the contrast with the directionlessness in the UK is stark.