The permanent offices of “La République En Marche!” deputies have been vandalised or degraded by various actions this past week, particularly in connection with the vote on CETA. The government and the parliamentary majority have strongly condemned these acts.
The acts of degradation and vandalism against the permanent offices of the presidential party “La République En Marche” (LREM) have multiplied in recent days. A phenomenon that manifests itself in the various regions of France. The latest example: on the night of July 29th to 30th, the local LREM deputy for Foix (Ariège) was decorated with tags such as “En Marche or drop dead”, “RIC”, “Fuck the system” or “ACAB” – an acronym in English for “All Cops Are Bastards” or “All Capitalists Are Bastards”.
The end of this month of July is not easy for the parliamentary majority: among the vandalised offices there is those of Rémy Rebeyrotte (Saône-et-Loire), Jean Baptiste Moreau (Creuse), Barbara Bessot-Ballot (Haute-Saône), and Carole Bureau-Bonnard (Oise). On July 27th, on the sidelines of a Yellow Vests gathering in Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales), individuals broke the windows of the office of Romain Grau and set it on fire while the deputy was there.
Ma permanence parlementaire a été saccagée ce matin. Je ne peux pas accepter cette violence à l’encontre de notre République et des valeurs qu’elle porte. Ma détermination à travailler au service de mes concitoyens et la volonté de rester à l’écoute de tous sont intactes. pic.twitter.com/dmpJx8omAW— Romain Grau (@RomainGrau) July 27, 2019
The rejection of CETA – the demand behind many actions
In most of the cases reported, the CETA (Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada) appears to be a motive for the actions against the permanent offices. Applied provisionally since September 21st 2017, validated on July 3rd by the French government, supported by Emmanuel Macron, and approved by the National Assembly on July 23rd, it raises strong reluctance in the opposition of the left and right, but also divides civil society. In this context, many disgruntled farmers have therefore taken action to challenge the deputies who voted for the text. Actions that have been declared on social networks.
In Lot-et-Garonne, the Departmental Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FDSEA) dumped, on July 26th, piles of manure in front of the offices of Alexandre Freschi, Olivier Damaisin, and Michel Lauzzana. Banners were installed on which one could read: “Vote CETA, we are in the shit”.
Marmande – Villeneuve – Agen— FDSEA du Lot-et-Garonne (@47Fdsea) July 26, 2019
JA+FDSEA47 sont venus remercier les députés @AVFreschi, @olivierdam1 et @lauzzanamichel de mettre les agris français dans la merde en votant le ceta ! (Ou en s’abstenant) !
N’importons pas l’agriculture que nous ne voulons pas ! pic.twitter.com/3yXZw4lXYZ
Another type of action: on July 25th, FDSEA Haute-Saône posted a photo showing the office of the deputy Barbara Bessot-Ballot being sealed with bricks.
C'est la clôture de la session parlementaire… ce soir c'est aussi la clôture de la permanence de la députée de la première circonscription de #HauteSaone à #vesoul qui a voté pour le #ceta… #directan #agriculture #trahison pic.twitter.com/zfHMB1t6dV— FDSEA Haute-Saône (@FDSEA70) July 25, 2019
On another occasion, the next day in Creuse, the local FDSEA, accompanied by the young farmers of the department, used the same method. They covered one of their works with the term “Traitor”.
Action coup de poing a la permanence du député Moreau pour lui exprimer notre mécontentement face au CETA ! pic.twitter.com/sUtwCQnWey— JA Creuse (@JaCreuse) July 26, 2019
The parliamentary majority strongly condemns
The government and the majority have rebelled against these procedures, while the Central Directorate of Public Security (DCSP) sent on July 29th “vigilance instructions”, asking for mobile patrols around offices regardless of their political colours. On July 29th on BFM TV, the spokesperson of LREM, Aurore Bergé, denounced an “unhealthy and nauseating climate” resulting in “fear”. “THey do not have the right in the Republic, in a democracy, to try to scare me and change my vote or decisions with fear,” she added.
“I will never be able to accept this violence against Democracy and its values. My door has always been open, and I have always made myself available to those who wish,” Carole Bureau-Bonnard, who had found hay and eggs on the forecourt of her office in Oise, explained on Twitter.
Ma permanence a été dégradée. Je ne pourrai jms me résoudre à cette violence à l’encontre de la Démocratie. Ma porte a tjrs été ouverte. Ma détermination à travailler au srvce de mes concitoyens reste plus que jms intacte et ma volonté de résister à tte forme de menace, entière ! pic.twitter.com/NwfnCqJLfK— Carole BureauBonnard (@CaroleBBonnard) July 29, 2019
About 20 Breton deputies decided to write a column, published on the website of France Info on July 30th, lambasting a “savage-ification of words and the world” that “can only produce the worst“ and reproaching some for blowing “on these embers” because “they wish for the worst”. They also recall that “it will never be tolerated that violence and destruction replaces dialogue and democracy”.
CETA, a source of anxiety and tension
If these methods are vigorously condemned by the parliamentary majority, they betray a strong rejection in society of CETA. And this, even within the parliamentary majority.
Indeed, the agreement was indeed approved by the National Assembly, by 266 votes against 213, but a first line of fracture appeared in the parliamentary majority, since 52 LREM deputies abstained and 9 voted against it. If abstentions had already been noted, for example, during the examination of the anti-trust bill, this is the first time in the LREM group that some have voted against a text carried by the government.
According to an OpinionWay poll dated July 29th, 49% of the French are opposed to CETA, against 26% who are in favour.
A text shared on social networks with the hashtag “#AfficheTonLREM” specifically targeted several deputies who voted “against the majority opinion of the French, to the detriment of the environment, future generations, and to comply with the demands of neoliberalism”, i.e., for CETA.
Without any justification for violent actions, the spokesman of “La France Insoumise”, Alexis Corbière, invited on France Info on the morning of July 30th, denounced the “extremism”, in his eyes, of the government: “The extremists are this government. It is they who are the crazy ones, the cranks, free trade sectarians”. He also called for CETA to be voted on via a referendum. “I propose that a referendum be held on CETA, we must return to democracy on this subject. Free trade is part of the big move of the planet that is melting the ice through global warming and changing the climate,” he concluded.