“You have to play politics with your emotions”

Suit, round glasses, short gray hair…

Suit, round glasses, gray and short hair, he cultivates a rather stern look and slaloms in his expression between humor, charm or often anger. Nothing seems to distract him from his strategy of disrupting and tearing apart. According to him, it is about “a cultural battle that will be won against the extreme right”. “These controversies have the merit of reconfiguring the public debate. Until now, the reactionary camp dictated its topics: security, immigration… We are in the process of regaining control. After that, we talk about the meat industry, the genre…”

Childhood in Charente

Sandrine Rousseau also claims to speak in the first person singular. “If you want to reconnect people to civil discourse, you have to make politics with your emotions and your lived experience. I get a lot of attacks, but also a lot of support. I keep my line, I’m fine with myself. »

Where does this armor come from, this indifference seemingly proportionate to the outcry his walks cause? For his detractors, the answer is clear: ambition, self-promotion. “Despite a weak political base, he has found a way to create a media presence that is completely disproportionate,” complains one left-leaning elected official.

“Sandrine reduced her meat consumption, but not the Ayatollah”

Her father, 77-year-old Yves Rousseau, clearly speculates otherwise: “Sandrine is angry because things are not moving. About femicides, climate emergencies… That’s his driving force,” he explains in a cafe in La Rochelle.

Coming from Val-de-Marne, the Rousseau family settled in Charente-Maritime in 1980. He was a tax inspector and his wife Evelyn was a civil servant. Both were active in the CFDT. He was the mayor of Nieul-sur-mer in 2001-2008, a socialist. Today, family meals bring two lefties together around the table. Social democratic father, ecofeminist daughter. “We don’t always agree, but we talk and laugh a lot when he spends his holidays here. We love a good lunch, sharing a good prime rib. Sandrine has reduced her meat consumption, but nothing about the Ayatollah. »

“He’s a fighter”

“What is Sandrine Rousseau doing? That day, he was interested in the front page of “L’Opinion” newspaper. The title pokes fun at Yves Rousseau. Rutin… “People talk to me about her all the time. People tell me they don’t agree, but many ask me to encourage him. If it wasn’t for his thick skin, I would have suffered. He is a warrior. He uses this form, which some consider excessive, to open arguments and talk about the essence. »

He remembers a “serious” child, an insatiable reader. She grew up with a “deconstructed” father: “I did the dishes, I cooked.” His wife Évelyne died in September 2013. Suffering from generalized cancer, he ended his life. A few weeks later, Sandrine Rousseau published a wonderful text on the legalization of assisted suicide, which even appeared in the columns of “Figaro”.

He was little known at the time. Among others, head of EELV, lecturer-researcher in economics, vice-president of the University of Lille. In 2015, he was at the top of the regional list in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, but it was unsuccessful (4.8% of the vote). Sandrine Rousseau is moving away from politics, moving towards other warrior horizons.

In 2017, she founded Parler, an association for victims of sexual violence, after accusing MP Denis Baupin of sexual assault in 2016. At the same time, she discovered Rachel Carson, Françoise d’Eaubonne or, when she was younger, Emilie Hache, pioneers of ecofeminism.

“sexist bias”

As the MeToo wave breaks, Sandrine Rousseau returns to the political scene embodying this new sensibility, part of the same predation that thinks the male domination and exploitation of the planet has common causes. Unexpected success: During the environmental primaries in September 2021, he won almost half of the votes of 120,000 supporters against Yannick Jadot. “He knows how to meet the demand of young people who see that things are not going fast enough,” said Noël Mamère, who considers his friend Rousseau “necessary for environmentalists, carrying the real demand of society.” But his search for noise and radicalism backfires. His provocative tweets don’t add up to much. “Patriarchy, deconstruction… he’s more into social science than politics. It is not clear how his positions can be translated into public policy. Should barbecues be banned? asks the Bordeaux ecologist.

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