And Pujol lost Perpignan, by Màrius Carol

For the people of my generation, Perpignan was freedom. We used to go there to see Novecento or The Last Tango in Paris, to buy the books of Edicions Catalanes de París or Ruedo Ibérico or to eat in their bistros, which made us feel European. That is why we are affected by the conquest of Perpignan by the extreme right in last Sunday’s elections. Louis Aliot, 50, former sentimental partner of Marine Le Pen, the president of Agrupación Nacional (heir to the National Front), is the new mayor of the city, after overcoming the conservative Jean-Marc Pujol, who was in office. The capital of Rosselló thus becomes the most important metropolis of this formation in the hexagon. No one has missed this fact. Aliot will govern a city of 120,000 inhabitants, which has always felt emotionally closer to Barcelona, ​​which is 190 kilometers away, than to Paris, which is 850 kilometers away. The distance is not always geographical. Perpignan’s new mayor parted ways with Marine Le Pen last summer. They were not only a sentimental couple, but also a political tandem, to the point that he was the vice president of AN and the ideologue of her campaign to the presidential ones, in which he achieved a magnificent result. Aliot tried to demonize the extreme right and whitewash the image of the party, which was coupled with that of its founder, the irascible and ultramontane Jean-Marie Le Pen. It was about turning the formation into a party that would not scare the French electorate, while trying to approach the fears of the middle classes – from immigration to insecurity – with a discourse as simple as it was resounding. And raising the flag of patriotism, also in economic matters. The extreme right has only managed 11 mayors in a country like France, which has 35,000 municipalities. Aliot has publicly presented himself as “independent”, erasing the name of his formation from the electoral posters. So Marine Le Pen cannot fire rockets, because his greatest success has been his ex-partner, with whom it did not end exactly well, to the point of breaking with the family clan that has been ruling the most radical right. On election night, the new mayor of Perpignan did not summon her once, nor the party he presides over. However, Marine Le Pen lacked time to appropriate the triumph, after congratulating him: “It will be a great opportunity for the French to realize that AN can manage a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants effectively.” In any case, the president of the French Republic is more concerned with the rise of the green candidates that they won thanks to their alliances in Strasbourg, Bordeaux or Marseille, and will govern in coalition with the socialist Anne Hidalgo in Paris. Nor in Waterloo did he like Aliot’s victory, after Puigdemont chose Perpignan to take his bath, at the gates of Catalonia, on February 29 of this year. Perpignan is not what it was.