The electoral period is a great moment of communication, a time where all spotlights are turned towards politicians. In demand for change, citizens are on the lookout of politicians slightest doings and have a powerful tool of positive or negative sanction: the ballot.
With the lowest abstention rate, the presidential elections are very popular and stay a key event for the French population.
Communication becomes therefore an essential tool for candidates who want to make a difference. Launched in a real charm offensive of opinion leaders, the population, and the media, politicians are ready to promise a lot and event to interact to solve situations that had not yet been until then. It is for instance the case with companies going through difficulties.
That’s how the 2012 campaign turned into a road trip of companies in crises around France for the two favorite candidates and some of their rivals: propositions, support, safety plans, promises…all means are good to show that they defend industrial jobs! From Lejaby to Photowatt and Renault for Nicolas Sarkozy, from Fralib to Arcelor Mittal for François Hollande, and Petropolus, Goodyear, the Fonderie du Poithou, Delbard, every day a new plant is invited into the presidential campaign and a candidate invites itself on a new plant in difficulty. Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan did not forget to be active!
Everyone has his own miracle solution and does not hesitate to call out the other solutions suggested but often forget the 800 000 jobs that have already disappeared over the past 10 years in the industry.
These “smoke screens” are not new, each election has its share of rescuing. For example, Ségolène Royal in 2007 promised a “moratorium” of the social plan announced by Airbus if she was ever elected president…these techniques work! Everyone seems to find his share, the candidates make the front pages, the media comment their doings. The companies concerned become the center of attention and the subject of the most audacious suggestions. For the time of a campaign, they can actually believe in a miracle solution.
At the same time, some companies are highly recommended to differ their restructuration projects. For the past few months the Public Authorities have been asking companies to push back the announcement of their redundancy plans. Areva, FNAC, PSA, Renault and many others seem to have been put under pressure in order to not worsen the unemployment numbers. The risk is a brutal return to reality in September once the elections and the summer holidays have past.
It makes sense that during a campaign the candidates take advantage of the current events to promote their ideas and the solutions they could bring to each problem if they were elected. But by trying to be seductive, don’t they risk to see their electors flee? The last numbers show that 66% of the French population find the 2012 presidential elections uninteresting and 76% do not trust politicians.