PortraitTo identify the candidate of the National Rally, leading the first round of regional elections in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, we must follow in his footsteps from Vaucluse to Baku, via Moscow, Astana or Damascus, between parallel diplomacy and relations business.
The man has as many facets as there are stamps on his passport. Who is Thierry Mariani, the far-right candidate who is now seeking the presidency of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region? The grandson of immigrants who fled the fascist Italy of Mussolini or the obligator of Vladimir Putin? The indefatigable elected official described by his relatives or the careerist politician who rallied, at the age of 60, a National Rally (RN) that he had claimed to fight all his life, within the right? Ideologist in his spare time, when he supports the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Closer to the mercenary than to the aedile, when he travels the roads of Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan, where his friends do business. Willingly provocative in public, often secret once the microphones are off.
If he claims to have never touched the slightest money on the fringes of his mandates, the Mariani-style policy poses the question of his independence, between travel all expenses paid by foreign powers and a mixture of genres assumed with business and sulphurous friendships. To identify the one whose duel against Renaud Muselier (The Republicans, supported by La République en Marche) in the second round of the regional, Sunday, June 27, focuses media attention, we must follow in his footsteps from Nîmes to Baku. Draw the common thread of his political trips to Moscow and Damascus.
Avignon, June 16, 2021. Thierry Mariani’s team can push a sigh of relief. The Avignon court rejected on the form the request for deletion from the electoral lists of its candidate, a few days before the first round of regional, for “fictitious domiciliation”. A document has however proved that the Avignon apartment of which Mr. Mariani is a tenant is only a “secondary” pied-à-terre. His real home is in Paris, in a bourgeois building in the 17e borough.
Thierry Mariani is not, however, a parachute in Provence. Rather a ghost. Born in Orange in 1958, he knows perfectly well the north of Vaucluse, this left-wing land where far-right ideas found favorable ground at the end of the 1980s. He comes from a viscerally anti-fascist family, coming from ‘Italy to escape Mussolini.
Joined the RPR at the age of 20, this young wolf won his first mandate as mayor at the age of 30, in 1989, in Valréas (Vaucluse). But he gradually lost interest in his city, as he was sucked into his national functions. He abandoned it in 2005, when it was weighed down by debt. “Mariani is a loner on a personal journey”, says of him the regional adviser Bénédicte Martin, his former chief of staff, become his political adversary on the list of Mr. Muselier.
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