To listen to Michaël Delafosse, his accession to the office of mayor of Montpellier is the fruit of a long road. Contact case, on this Wednesday, February 3, the elected socialist is cloistered at home and it weighs on him, the man in a hurry. The 40-year-old takes a still emotional look at the months of battle that led to victory in the municipal elections of June 2020: “Nothing was obvious”, he assures. However, looking at his journey, everything seems to have been thought out and calculated. And his sudden notoriety owes nothing to chance.
Mad and absurd, according to both protagonists and local observers, the municipal campaign saw a strong comeback of the Socialist Party (PS) in a city where no one expected it. A shattered left, environmentalists who dismiss their candidate, an unnatural alliance between a construction magnate, a comedian, a “municipalist” and a dissident environmentalist, a weakened ex-PS macronist outgoing mayor, a non-existent right … It was not to mention the tactical talent of the socialist candidate, who was nearly 13 points ahead of the outgoing mayor, Philippe Saurel, in the second round. “In the maneuver, he is not one-armed”, laughs Benoît Hamon, his former mentor.
Michaël Delafosse went to a good school. Engaged at the age of 15 at the PS, he began by setting up an independent union in his high school in Montpellier, before joining the National Union of high school students. He was quickly spotted there by the friends of Benoît Hamon, who controlled the high school union and the Young Socialist Movement (MFS). Gwenegan Bui, then an executive of the young socialists, was given the task of roughing it up: “Benoît told me: ‘You have to take care of the little one.’ We had a coffee and we never left each other ”, explains the former PS deputy from Finistère.
Attached to “his” city
The political life of Delafosse is first and foremost a gang story, that of the young Rocardiens who monopolize the places in the MJS and the UNEF student union, and there build a stronghold loyal to the leader of the socialist left. It is within it that the young history professor will be trained and take the bottle as leader of the MJS and UNEF-ID, then president of the Mutual of students (LMDE). “He was a solar and charismatic character, square about his values but always hypersympa”, recalls Mathieu Klein, another young Rocardian of the team, now mayor of Nancy.
His career as a Parisian apparatchik seems all out, but he prefers to return to Montpellier, “his” city that he has never taken his eyes off of. He was noticed there by Georges Frêche, the figure of the Hérault left, and the two men forged a special relationship, the elder pushing his younger brother into the mysteries of the local PS. Of this political monster, he prefers today to talk about the mayor builder rather than his racist and outrageous slippages: “I adored the ambitious Freche for its city”, he said.
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