Xavier Bertrand, all risks insurer in the race for the Elysée

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To better understand Xavier Bertrand, having seen him highlight long passages of the test The Two Clans by the British David Goodhart (Ed. Les Arènes). Revealing reading. Elected in 2015 president of the Hauts-de-France region – fusion of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – the former Minister of Labor of Nicolas Sarkozy is today convinced that he understands France better than the average of his opponents, Emmanuel Macron included.

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In these Two Clans, bizarre translation of The road to somewhere the English scholar describes our societies fractured by an inevitable schism. On the one hand, the rooted (somewhere) who, by lack of choice or by will, have a given terroir as their horizon, from which they cannot detach themselves; and on the other, the nomads (all over), able to carry their lives in their luggage.

A runner-follower

This book, Xavier Bertrand, 56, read and reread it, convinced that it contains the best political recipes: a claimed proximity with the voters “somewhere”. “This is the typical case of the runner-follower who gets away from the peloton for a moment,” judges one of his collaborators. One year before the presidential election, he thinks he can change gear and face the slope. “

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The person, however, seems in many ways stuck at the bedside of his electoral “bike”. No ubiquity in the media. Few small murderous sentences. An eclectic recruitment of various advisers, more conducive to forming a team than a band, unlike the one he was part of to bring “Sarko” to the Elysee Palace. The proof: its coordinator of the “working groups” has recently been the Rhônalpin Vincent Chriqui, mayor of Bourgoin-Jallieu (Isère), ultimate campaign director of… Francois Fillon in 2017.

Is the assault on the Elysée therefore possible, after the regional ones in June? “Its strength is not that of the coup d’etat, recently replied the political scientist Frédéric Dabi to the World. Bertrand’s trump card is catch-all popularity. ” A candidate who, unlike Macron, is perceived neither as elitist nor as arrogant. Half-François Hollande, half-Jacques Chirac. Author of I will never betray their trust at Gallimard, Philippe Juvin, hospital doctor and former right-wing MEP, recognizes this quiet strength: “Xavier has a sense of stewardship and endurance. He is a long-distance runner who does not have the physique. ”

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The race in question is, in fact, a marathon. Xavier Bertrand’s two parents worked in the bank. And he, as a young professional, opted for insurance. Calculation of risks, release of premiums, visits to the scene of claims to better assess the damage and what should or not be reimbursed … Unlike Emmanuel Macron, son of the Somme turned towards the sea (adolescence in Amiens, holidays and marriage in Le Touquet), Xavier Bertrand is a product of the agricultural Aisne, a crossroads department crossed by the Seine, but above all a land of heritage and a high place of legend since Clovis, king of the Franks, broke there the Soissons vase verse 486.

The feet in the ground of the fields of beets and cereals. The head in a society mirror French fractures: growing precariousness, but strong identity and resistance to extremes. In Château-Thierry, where the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu shelters the remains of one of the most famous commanders of the Swiss Guards, Pierre Stop, the list of the National Assembly only made 13% in the municipal elections of 2020, while Marine Le Pen plows this electoral soil from its neighboring Pas-de-Calais. “We are several to have been approached by his teams, confides the director of Sciences Po Lille, Pierre Mathiot. Xavier Bertrand thinks that 2022 will be played on values ​​and trust. He is preparing on these two themes. ” Candidate for his re-election on June 13 and 20 at the head of Hauts-de-France facing a list of union of the left and environmentalists that he had not seen coming, Xavier Bertrand bet on the traditional French right, cannibalized by Macron and his liberal reforms.

In his viewfinder? The provincial notables who made the heyday of Jacques Chirac’s RPR and the centrists worried about the radical discourse of the Greens: “He is the one who beat Marine Le Pen here in 2015. He has the credibility of a dike. But this, in this old socialist country, can crack if the left does not disperse, ”comments the photographer Christophe Blanquart, based in Hénin-Beaumont, the sanctuary of the RN where the mayor, Steeve briois, was re-elected with 70% of the votes.

Factsheets on covid

Better: Bertrand has the friends and intimate enemies he needs to face Macron. Sarkozy no longer loves him. The former socialist minister Arnaud Montebourg appreciates his social commitment. Several officials of the Ministry of Health, which he directed between 2005 and 2007, prepare him files on covid. Risky, the Elysee? The fact of having, from the outset, refused to participate in the primaries gives him the required freedom: “He compensates for his lack of stature and his side Mr. Everybody by fine intuitions on the calendar and the state. of opinion, ”admits a historical sarkozyst.

The ex-insurer is much more agile than his stout physique suggests. He knows he must bring together the disappointed Macron, and block another Gaullist vying for the Elysee: the Brexit negotiator, Michel barnier. How? ‘Or’ What? “By relying on his large capacity for work, on his networks (his Freemason companionship with the Grand Orient of France is well known) and on his legitimacy as an elected official struggling with the real country”, continues a colleague of The voice of the North. The legendary Picardy fog usually dissipates in spring. The road to the Elysée requires taking all the risks.


Profile

1965 Born in Châlons-sur-Marne.

nineteen eighty one Militant in the RPR, vote no eleven years later in the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, but yes in the 2005 referendum on the draft European Constitution.

1992 Insurance agent in Saint-Quentin (Aisne).

2002 Member of the Aisne and spokesperson, five years later, for the presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy, of which he will become Minister of Labor.

2015 Elected president of the Hauts-de-France region.


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