POLICY – “President Mathilde Panot has the floor.” This sentence, ritual, fallen from the perch, Tuesday, October 12 during the traditional questions to the government, is actually not that common at the Palais Bourbon.
And for good reason, the leaders, patron of parliamentary groups, are not legion in the National Assembly, an institution which is feminizing, of course, but whose prestigious positions remain quite rigorously captured by men. The president of the lower house? Richard Ferrand. The patron of the walkers? Christophe Castaner. That of their main allies, the Modem? Patrick Mignola. What about the first opposition group, that of the Republicans? Damien Abad.
In this context, Valérie Rabault, the president of the Socialist deputies since 2018, was an exception. She is now joined by Mathilde Panot. At only 32 years old, the elected representative of Val-de-Marne becomes the youngest woman to occupy this position of responsibility at the Palais Bourbon … by replacing Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The sign that opponents of the Insoumis are taking “another 30 years”, she rejoices, “proud” to lead a group formerly ridiculed by the majority as “deputies bac -2”. A somewhat “symbolic” promotion at six months of the presidential election, but, which, she hopes, will make it possible to embody a “female model” of fighting in the face of “this ineptitude carried by Zemmour according to which women do not have the same brains as men “at a time when” machismo is still very significant in politics. ” Maintenance.
The HuffPost: How do you feel by becoming the fourth woman president of a group in the National Assembly, only, under the Fifth Republic?
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It is an honor and a pride to lead this parliamentary group unprecedented in history on many aspects. When the government was made up of 12 millionaires, we arrived at the Assembly with Caroline Fiat, the first nursing assistant ever elected, Jean-Hugues Ratenon, who was at RSA activity, or Adrien Quatennens, who came from a call- center. They called us bac -2 deputies … in short, they looked down on us a lot. I am very proud to have succeeded in proving that everyone can be in politics, often better than others.
“Get out of the image that the machos want to stick to us”
You thus become the second woman – with Valérie Rabault for the PS – to occupy this function, for 7 men (3 for 15 if we include the Senate). What does this imbalance reveal?
Sexism is still very present in politics, the place of women remains a struggle. We have seen it again very recently. The lack of women, even more in positions of responsibility, causes a form of identification deficit. The models are very masculine.
The fact that we are several (Clémentine Autain, Danièle Obono, Caroline Fiat) to be identified in the ranks of LFI favors the opposite movement. We need these female models to get out of the image that machos want to stick to us, those who think that we are not able to do. Even today, you have to invent what it is to be a politician.
Things are not changing?
There is a hopeless side to all of this: the deputy who insulted me (last February) is younger than me. We must be honest, machismo is still very significant in politics. But there are still things that are moving, especially thanks to the great social movements, popular, like #MeToo. If a member of parliament had been called a “fishmonger” thirty years ago, I am not sure that sanctions would have followed, which I managed to obtain. For once, the fact of having women in charge helps that certain things do not pass any more.
What would you say to Julien Aubert if he called you “Madam President”?
I have already explained to him that as long as he called me “madam the deputy”, I would answer him “mister the deputy”. The functions are feminized since 1998, I do not see why he would allow himself to choose what we should be called. I refuse to let someone decide for me. May Monsieur Aubert remain the man of the past that he wants to be, that he return to the 19th century, when there were only men in the Assembly.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon nevertheless waited four years before leaving his place. And there are only six months of parliamentary practice left in the Assembly … Why should we see anything other than a coup?
For several reasons. I have been vice-president of the group since 2019, it has been two years that I coordinate, in fact, the parliamentary group on a daily basis. If the symbolic part is not negligible, the message sent is not limited to the next six months: the goal is also to say “you are still taking 30 years, and there are many others behind this new generation. . ” It is one of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hallmarks to ensure the sustainability of a political current that is much older than each and every one of us.
What do you propose to improve the visibility of women in the public space, in the political field but not only?
The question is that of the political will to leave space for women. Men must make room in certain areas, this is the first thing and it is very important. We must strengthen the rules on parity, tighten the sanctions against parties that do not respect them and make ineligible all elected officials who are convicted of sexual violence. Above all, we must continue to be more numerous in responsibility. This is the way to combat this idea carried by Zemmour, and others, according to which women do not have the same brains as men. All that nonsense.
Do you think you have inspired vocations in the new generations?
Many young women come to us and tell us how proud they are of our work. That people say “I want to become Danièle Obono or Clémentine Autain when I grow up”, it’s great. They are models that break with the patriarchy, whose first goal is to assign people to places. We are breaking this.
“We can and we must do otherwise”
What do you remember, as fight number one, from these four years at the Palais Bourbon?
Macronia has always displayed incredible sectarianism. We have made 100 proposals for law, 61 proposals for resolution, we have transcribed 56% of our program, but everything has always been refused. So it is not by the result of the votes that we managed to score points. On the other hand, other things make us proud like the return of the people to politics with deputies who give back popular representation to the people and demonstrate that politics is not reserved for experts. Our presence at the Assembly has also helped foster the idea that we can and must do otherwise. There is now an alternative in this country, with a disruptive program and a team ready to govern. It is very precious.
What place will you occupy in Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s campaign team?
This team will be equal, obviously. Here again, Jean-Luc Mélenchon shares this attention. As for my role, for the moment, it comes down to doing the work of coordination between the deputies so that everyone can find the place they want in this campaign, and make our ideas win in 2022.
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