” You are not sure Signal? Are the elected Parisians falling into a vast paranoia? “This encrypted messaging is safer,” says a campaign committee member. Since the outbreak of the Griveaux affair, the requirement of confidentiality has gone up a notch in the political community already fond of “off”. The day of Thursday, February 13 will have shaken all the staffs. If the distribution on the Internet of an intimate video attributed to Benjamin Griveaux began to be mentioned as early as Wednesday evening in several circles, even in the Parisian LREM camp and for certain top names, the information did not finally begin to s’ rumor only Thursday during the afternoon.
“Thursday, at the press conference of Benjamin Griveaux, several heads of list sitting behind him in the gallery were unaware of anything,” says a campaign collaborator. “The first people had to watch the video right after. In the team anyway, many of the candidates suspect nothing. “Nothing in Benjamin’s behavior showed any concern,” says Eric Azière, head of the Benjamin Griveaux list in the 14th arrondissement.
“Benjamin was locked up, unreachable”
Several heads of list, returned to the field, go about their business: towing, finalizing the lists … “Me, I do not even know if I was sent the video … I am in the countryside, I do not have the time to look at my emails, but it was a collaborator who alerted me, ”reports this top of the list. “I didn’t want to believe what I was told right away. But Benjamin was locked up. Unreachable. So when, in addition, in the early evening, I received a summons for a crisis meeting the next day, I understood that it was true ”, sighs a chosen Parisian.
Just after the press conference to present his program, Benjamin Griveaux isolated himself. With his campaign manager, a lawyer and a member of the Publicis communications agency. “He did not want to withdraw at the start,” reports a collaborator.
“We first believed in fake news”
Meanwhile, the noise spreads throughout Paris. “We, at the beginning, when the news reached us, we first believed in fake news,” we admit in the entourage of Anne Hidalgo. “At the beginning of the afternoon, when the information started to turn, we did not immediately take the measure of the deflagration”, murmurs a member of the team of the ecologist David Belliard. Right, the news turns on Twitter loops during the evening.
At 9:30 p.m., when he leaves a public campaign meeting, Eric Azière, the head of the LREM list in the 14th district, does not yet know what is going on. “I did feel that my phone kept vibrating, but it was only when I learned about the crisis meeting.”
Some macronists find themselves in small groups, worried about their future. “Will I always have a place on the list in the 17th century? »Worries an elected ex-LR outgoing. “The campaign must not stop. Our teams in the field have solid projects for each arrondissement, ”insists another.
Names of potential replacements are mentioned: the outgoing mayor of the ninth, Delphine Bürkli. The Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, the Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa. “We have to put Villani back in the loop,” others whisper. During the night, on Telegram messaging, Mounir Mahjoubi suggests that he could go there.
Be careful with opponents
While in the ranks of the future ousted candidate, the ringing runners are looking for an alternative solution, among his opponents, we are thinking about the strategy to adopt in the face of this unprecedented upheaval one month before the election.
While the rustle of the probable announcement of a renunciation by Benjamin Griveaux is getting stronger, instructions have been sent to the running mate of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, not to “make any comments”. Friday morning, the outgoing mayor’s campaign team preferred to stick to the mayor’s press release issued at 10 a.m., an hour after the official statement of his opponent. Same instructions from environmentalists. Be careful when dealing with a “very vague” case deemed “very bizarre”.
VIDEO. Anne Hidalgo calls for “respect for the privacy of families”
On the right side, Friday morning, the head of the LR list exchanged between them. Guideline adopted: focus on the ground, the campaign should not stop.
On all sides, we assure ourselves that we have never known such a troubled and disturbing municipal campaign … “All the same, getting this video out three days before the lists are deposited … It is indeed a political coup to torpedo the candidacy at the last minute LREM. There is no time to renegotiate, the damage is maximum for them, ”observes an actor in the Paris countryside.