With Julien Odoul in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, RN candidates to the challenge of reliability

In 2015, the candidate of the National Rally (RN) Sophie Montel had created a surprise by turning in the lead with 31.5% of the vote in the first round. Six years later, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté was given as one of the objectives of victory for the far right. But a few days before the election, the horizon has blurred a bit for his candidate, Julien Odoul, who is accumulating controversy.

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The man is used to media blows in Republican speakers. In 2019, it was he who had violently attacked a veiled woman who came to attend with a group of children at a meeting of the Dijon regional council.

But this time his words shocked even in his camp. An audio document broadcast in the press relays his jokes in very bad taste about the suicide of a farmer. In the process, Franck Gaillard, RN regional councilor and mayor of the village of Chaume-et-Courchamp (Côte-d’Or) dissociated himself from the candidate and announced his resignation from the RN group.

The publication of this soundtrack as well as other revelations (including a suspicion of fictitious employment and an… erotic video) are the result of internal settlements at the local RN where some have never accepted this man imposed by Marine Le Pen in 2017 after a split and the departure of Sophie Montel.

Fragile candidates

But the case also shows the party’s difficulty in finding reliable candidates. “This remains the party’s weak point, explains political scientist Sylvain Crépon. In 2020, the RN had presented fewer candidates to the municipal elections than in those of 2014 by making an effort of selection, of training. But we see that it is still a real difficulty for the party. “

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Unlike other political formations, the RN knows how to propose to voters candidates outside the seraglio, who look like “everyone or everyone.” But the flip side of the coin is their fragility. On June 8, the party withdrew its nomination from a departmental candidate in the Loiret who had expressed racist views on social media. Same in May for a candidate from Corrèze who had made anti-Muslim remarks.

Julien Odoul placed in the lead

The case of Julien Odoul, 36, is a little different. The municipal councilor of Sens (Yonne) has a real political background, even if he went through the PS and the center before joining Marine Le Pen. “He has a recognition rate of 40%, it is quite high and undoubtedly the result of his brilliance”, analysis Jean-François Doridot, Managing Director of Ipsos public affairs.

The institute published a poll on June 9 which places it first in the first round with 28%, a little less than the score of Sophie Montel in 2015. But it is difficult to say if the recent controversies can have an impact. On the one hand, underlines Jean-François Doridot, many RN voters vote for the label, regardless of the candidate.

But on the other hand, the poll shows that the man has a worse image among people who are sure to vote than among voters as a whole. In a context of strong abstention, a few lost votes could cost him dearly.


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