“Hao, good evening.” He could have tweeted like this on Sunday when he announced his defeat in the first round of parliamentary elections in the 5th constituency of French people living abroad. Manuel Valls chose a much more shocking message, followed by the most outspoken gesture: he closed his Twitter account, minutes after he posted a short farewell text. “I take note of the results (…) If disagreements and divisions have sown confusion, I cannot ignore my result and the fact that my candidacy has not convinced me.” Before I add: “It is up to me to lucidly draw the consequences. Life is good enough to quietly turn the pages.
Provocative and capricious? “I think this theatrical farewell has been carefully designed,” said Emmanuelle Patry, founder of the Social Media Lab and a social media specialist. Sure, there is a staged side, but Manuel Valls has been in trouble on the political front for several years, and this is his way of drawing the line. His decision is not surprising. Neither is the form of the message when you know the character and love / hate relationship he has maintained on Twitter for years.
Twitter, a place to be ?
Social networking seems to be an essential means of communication for today’s candidates. But to what extent does the influence of politicians pass through this medium? “Twitter is an open, influential network where you can communicate with all citizens, but also with journalists. It has taken up a lot of space in the political landscape, is widely used by journalists and institutions, but also people who are politically engaged, or who at least learn about current events, analyzes Emmanuelle Patry, also specializing in social media analysis. and strategy. The community of people present and active on Twitter has expanded significantly. »
Long known as a self-respecting microcosm, “Twitter has a much more diverse audience of users, even if it’s still a favorite place for young urban dwellers to share,” adds Emmanuelle Patry. Since it is mostly text-based and completely open, it is easy to build virality quickly. The shape of Twitter makes it easier for politicians to gain influence. “
Why do Twitter and politicians get along so well?
Today, in order to appear on the national political scene, it is necessary to have a Twitter account, and if possible, a certified one. But not only that, specifies the expert on social networks. “If a politician has an order without being active, apart from avoiding false orders and usurpers, it is not very useful. Moreover, today, professional politicians often have a dedicated team that manages their various profiles. This presence is entirely part of their strategy of influence, their way of communicating. Each candidate becomes their own medium thanks to social networks. »
By omitting the term “agora,” Emmanuelle Patry summarizes Twitter’s role in politicians ’communication strategy today:“ an online public space where everyone can freely express their ideas, ”especially those who dream of a position of power in the media hierarchy. For Manuel Valls, his withdrawal from Twitter is an allegory of his pause, temporary or final, no one knows, from political life.
And as during the exchange of muscles between sports journalists and clubs or coaches, Twitter is also the scene of ping-pong controversy between politicians and the world of media. “A few years ago, Emmanuelle Patry recalls, journalists from Laboratory Europe 1 played this role of combing hair on 140 inscriptions with political figures on the French national scene.”
Twitter has also enabled Manuel Valls, according to Emmanuelle Patry, to put an end to online harassment, a phenomenon that has suffered particularly in recent days during this legislative campaign. It’s hard to imagine how many messages of hatred and slander have been received, but, Valérie Pécresse can testify to that, it’s the bad side of Twitter, which is healthy to end up with.
In the latest ego rush in which his departure from Twitter made almost more noise than the not-so-unexpected defeat in the parliamentary elections, the former prime minister joined a very closed circle of politicians who left Twitter. Among the most famous we can mention Patrick Balkany or Jérôme Cahuzac, two national political figures who no longer have their names in the news, except in the section on justice. No way back?
Maybe one day?
If Manuel Valls returned to the national political scene one day (yes, yes, he wouldn’t be the first to say “no,” so “why not?” And “OK, I need you, I’m coming!”), Could he? to do without reactivating your Twitter account? For Emmanuelle Patry, “it seems unlikely today. It is indeed an unavoidable space for political expression. ” As he recalls, only Donald Trump, “against his will, of course,” is active, but no longer has a Twitter account.
She also reminds that the White House never hid, that a tweet could replace a press release for several years: “We know that the United States is often ahead of Europe on these topics. I think this phenomenon can now be applied to France. ” So“Goodbye Twitter” is new “I take full responsibility for this failure and draw conclusions by withdrawing from political life” on April 21, 2002, 20 years after Lionel Jospin, in a tweet on a smartphone, not in front of microphones and cameras. Until the former prime minister returns to the scene?