When Christian Estrosi walked on the lawn of the Jardin Albert-1er in Nice, the garden party was already well under way. Under the palm trees, its 6,200 guests were entitled to the broadcast of the clip of a Nice rapper, to an old-fashioned chore of a "Ambiancers Brigade" and the instructions of the Carnaval de Nice announcer. The heels embedded in the grass and the half-open shirts, the "Friends of the mayor" Friday night enjoy one of the last hot nights of summer. "We are breaking a record (attendance), spit the speakers. There is big, heavy. " It is necessary to agitate all this small world: Estrosi organizes there his last political return before the municipal ones. In six months, the mayor LR of Nice could well face his ally of yesterday, enemy today, Eric Ciotti. So we must galvanize the troops, thank the militants, remobilize the lost sheep.
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Danielle is one of them. Too much "angry" against Estrosi, she had not made the trip last year. "It was Ciotti's idea to bring people together. Estrosi only copied it, Danielle believes. Now, he occupies this irresistible location and his competitor has had to leave far from the center. These are all those little things I do not like. " In the game of comparisons between the two leaders of the right Riviera, Danielle is an expert. And it was not his critics who slowed his participation in the banquet. She has already sat at one of the tables at the back of the garden. "Why would not I come? When you are from Nice and there is a party in Nice, we go, She says. I went private last year because I was angry. This time, I'm enjoying. " Danielle has long been a great follower of "Christian". Then came the election time and the Macron-compatible attitude of the Mayor of Nice. "It's called shenanigans. He does not need that to succeed, she says. When you're old, you use your own qualities. " Danielle will not get closer to the stage to listen to Estrosi. "I know his speech by heart, he always says the same thing, She says. But that's normal, he's in the field. "
"I do not want to have to choose"
In the middle of the garden, Estrosi climbed on stage. The encouragement was asked at the microphone: "Fortunately, there are the tables on the right that applaud more than the tables on the left," the master of ceremonies reassured himself. Not yet a candidate, Estrosi is committed to remaining in his role as mayor. It reviews eleven years of mandate, from the creation of the tram to the experimentation of facial recognition. Above all, Estrosi plays the appeasement, even the opening. "I see there are two categories. Those who consider that we must try to divide and rule better, where my slogan will remain the union is strength, He brave. I know that many people are asking questions. My spirit of freedom is also not to be sectarian. "
Marie-Rose and Fabrice have not left their table. But they listen attentively to the speech thanks to the giant screens. Mother and son are contributing in two now hostile associations: "Friends of Mayor Christian Estrosi" and "Friends of Eric Ciotti". "My ass is between two chairs, Marie-Rose plague. Behind these political figures, there are ideas and teams. I do not want to have to choose. " It's the boy arguing. Fabrice explains that she likes the approach of "French identity" of Eric Ciotti and the vision of the development of the city of Christian Estrosi. He regrets the radicalism of the former and the fiscal policy of the latter. Good and bad that prevent them to decide. So both had been present at the invitation of the Ciotti party, held in a nice castle in mid-July. And they came to Estrosi's "feast nissart". "One does not prevent the other, Fabrice argues. That way we hear both speeches and we compare. It's more or less the same except that Ciotti was more critical and Estrosi more conciliatory. "
"Made to be together"
Ciotti was not invited. "Inviting him this year would have been a snub", says the president of the association Friends of the mayor, Pierre-Paul Leonelli. He is absent from the banquet and speech. On stage, not an allusion to Ciotti. The spades will never arrive. To believe that Estrosi changes his strategy to be the peacemaker, the one who "Open your arms" : "I never unearthed a single hatchet, he will confide later in the evening. I am not someone locked in ego problems. In one mandate, I invited hands and gatherings. " Muriel films with her cellphone. This convinced estrosist will wait until the next day to post the video on Facebook. It is that the Niçoise appreciated this attitude. She dreaded the "Ego war" between the two strong men. "I like both. I made my choice for Estrosi but it hurts my heart, she said, leaning on the white tablecloth where socca chips were finally opened. Everyone regrets this squabble. I am convinced that they are made to be together. "
There is no more suspense. Even without a formal announcement, Estrosi no longer lets the mystery around his program for the next few months. "Somehow, I say to myself that in September next year, we could make another step of assessment", he starts just before closing his speech. Spontaneous applause. The sound system sends the Marseillaise and Nissa Bella. It's finally time to sit down for good. For 25 euros, the "Friends of the Mayor" enjoy the traditional meal in Nice: daube-ravioli.
Back to the table. Fabrice has it all "Recorded in his head" for a complete analysis: "It was a speech about citizenship and the challenge of trust, He decodes. Estrosi did not mention Ciotti once. There is a form of conciliation. " It did not help Fabrice and her mom. They are still in indecision: "We hope the nomination and the national context will help us." In October, the Republicans will elect their new leader. It is at this point that the situation could be unblocked. "It will always be a big question mark, repeated his mother. I still hope I will not have to choose. I do not want to choose. " Marie-Rose is obliged to raise the tone, the speakers have started to sound again. It's Carla's The Voice Kids who grabbed the microphone. The political moment is closed. The garden party resumes its holiday atmosphere.
Correspondent Mathilde Frénois in Nice