Plates in hand, around fifty guests crowd onto the first floor of the Parisian restaurant. Some try as best they can to make their way to the buffet, where slices of sausage are snatched away. “Who had the idea of choosing the Auvergne embassy? It’s a mess!” says pro-hunting lobbyist Thierry Coste, stuck behind a door. It is in this temple of the aligot that his “old friend” and boss of the National Federation of Hunters (FNC), Willy Schraen, revealed this Tuesday the outlines of his “Rural Alliance” list, six months before the elections. European. “Our fight is not that of irreducible refractory Gauls. Our fight is to preserve rural lifestyles based on modern values,” he insists, in front of a cluster of microphones. The Northerner, who heads the list, wants to defend “a happy rurality” which “simply asks to be left alone”.
Also read: A list of pro-Macron hunters for poaching on RN land
“Who better than rural people to defend this formidable French rurality?”, he says, surrounded by those who will appear on the list. Few names for the moment, including the “Queen of Arles”, Camille Hoteman, the rugby international, Louis Picamoles, or the mayor of Saint-Brès (Hérault), Laurent Jaoul, once close to LR. As a good hunter, Willy Schraen is careful not to display his best catches. “I am waiting for a response from some very, very big personalities. I can’t say, but it’s going to be terrible!”, he laughs. A week earlier, on France Inter, he swore he had convinced multi-star chef Pierre Gagnaire to join the adventure in an ineligible position. Flanked by his faithful, the Northerner even flaunted behind the 73-year-old cook's stove, toasting rurality and Europeans. But the mayonnaise did not take, the restaurateur preferring to withdraw at the last minute. “Pierre has always been a supporter of the cause, but he doesn't have the time to get involved with us. And then, he’s someone who’s a little older,” Willy Schraen tries to justify, a little confused. Cycling champion Bernard Hinault, expected to appear on the list, also preferred to backpedal.
In their canvassing, the hunters missed another coveted target: the former boss of the FNSEA, Christiane Lambert. The trade unionist ticked all the boxes: a woman, a pig farmer and committed to rural life. “I offered her to head the list, but she declined. There, we lost the match,” says the shadow advisor, Thierry Coste. Behind the scenes, the lobbyist does not hide his doubts about the choice of entrusting the head of the list to Willy Schraen, who has long dreamed of national politics. He was also opposed to it, fearing an image too focused on hunting, to the detriment of rurality. “They shot themselves in the foot by choosing Willy. There are anti-hunting people who live in rural areas who could have voted for a list like theirs,” says an executive from Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions (CPNT).
No matter, Willy Schraen continues his journey. “We are not a list of hunters,” he insists again, microphone in hand. The boss of the FNC is particularly annoyed by rumors that the list would be a Macronist operation to try to weaken the National Rally (RN). “We are not at the heart of a ploy to serve Emmanuel Macron, nor the hidden soldiers of a political party. We’re not for sale!” Noises accredited by the proximity to Emmanuel Macron which Thierry Coste has taken advantage of for a long time. But the lobbyist denies: “I only spoke to Emmanuel Macron about it once by SMS, in April. We haven’t talked about it since.” Moreover, in the presidential entourage, we are skeptical about the impact on the RN vote. “Their voters will not turn away from them. The list of hunters can rather steal votes from the LR, but also take from those who are fed up with the parties and want to have fun, weighs a macronie executive. It’s a bit like the animalist vote, but with the opposite cause!”
In the meantime, it is rather within the FNC that the launch of the list is causing some commotion. “At the federation, the initiative annoys a lot of people, who do not want to be exploited while they spend their time saying that they are apolitical,” slips an elected official well established in the world of politics. hunting.