Presidential 2022: will the campaign be televised?

In January 2012, François Hollande’s meeting at Le Bourget, broadcast live on television and marked by his diatribe against « The world of finance », had put the candidate of the Socialist Party in orbit for the Elysee. At the end of December 2016, it was during a similar gathering at Porte de Versailles, where he had broken his voice on the sentence « Because it’s our project », that Emmanuel Macron had definitely switched to the presidential camp.

While the Omicron variant plays the spoilsport, will the fifth wave of Covid-19 also get the better of these demonstrations of force that have become classics of the television spectacle of the election to the Presidency of the Republic? At the beginning of the month, already, Valérie Pécresse canceled the meeting that she was to hold on December 11, and which should have provided proof in pictures of her ability to reunite her political family.

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If the next race at the Elysée should be deprived of these raouts, « That would constitute a lack for the electoral campaign itself, but also for television », recognizes Thierry Thuillier, chief information officer of the TF1 group.

Providers of low-cost polished images, these large-scale public meetings have the double advantage of satisfying the appetite of continuous news channels while constituting « A perfect controlled communication tool » for candidates, explains Claire Sécail, CNRS researcher and author of Election meetings. Scenes and Behind the Scenes of the 2017 Presidential Campaign (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 406 p., 22 euros).

Thus, on December 5, Eric Zemmour had maintained his in Villepinte: the polemicist needed to materialize his transformation into a politician in the eyes of the greatest number. « Where the meeting has long been a moment of militant fraternity, supports media historian and sociologist Isabelle Veyrat-Masson, it became a media stage of the campaign, the moment of a truth fabricated for the spectacle. « 

No or few meetings, that would mean that part of « Theatricality » would disappear. Corn « That would give television back its letters of nobility », rejoices Michel Dumoret, the director of the national editorial staff of France Télévisions. Freed from these obligatory passages – the public group has chosen not to broadcast these events, filmed by the teams of the candidates, for the sake of independence – the channels could find a more driving function in the dramaturgy of the campaign. “Look at the audience score achieved by Fabien Roussel, candidate of the PCF, when he came to the France 2 newscast on December 14, points to the reporter. The show has been watched by over 4 million viewers. Never the retransmission of one of its meetings would have attracted so many people… ”

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