Constant Méheut reports from Grande-Synthe, which he qualifies as “an unlikely laboratory for working-class environmentalism.” The city, Méheut tells us, is saddled with both rates of unemployment and of households living below the poverty line hovering at near 30%. Yet Green Party mayor Damien Carême’s policies have made significant in-roads into local support for the Rassemblement national:
Despite Mr. Carême’s election as mayor, support for Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, remains strong.
In the European election in May, Ms. Le Pen’s party came first in Grande-Synthe — as it did nationwide — but it was down six percentage points in the town from the previous elections five years ago. Meanwhile, the Greens’ score surged from 6 to 22 percent in Grande-Synthe.
Mr. Carême said he was not surprised by the result. “We got to the root of problems. We made concrete changes,’’ he said. ‘‘That is the only way to cut the National Rally’s score.”
Given the surface-level opposition between ecology and industry, Mayor Carême’s level of success may be surprising, but I wonder if Grande-Synthe may not actually be a model to follow elsewhere in France’s rust belt.