• On February 24, 2012, the workers of ArcelorMittal in Florange are posted in front of their factory to express their anger after the announcement of the planned closing of the blast furnaces.

  • The PS presidential candidate François Hollande, who had previously consulted the first secretary of the PS federation of Moselle, then landed on the site on strike.

  • The day will then take a historic turn, especially when François Hollande decides to climb onto the roof of the inter-union van.

A Friday morning like the others, or almost.

On February 24, 2012, in the gray Moselle, ArcelorMittal employees in Florange (Moselle) have been stationed since dawn at the entrance to their factory.

In conflict for months with their management, they are there to express their anger after the announcement of the scheduled closure of the blast furnaces.

They do not know it yet, but this day will take a historic turn.

To the point that the witnesses interviewed by

20 Minutes

all remember the exact date of the event.

Very quickly, a rumor ignites the crowd in front of the Sainte-Agathe gate: François Hollande, PS candidate in the presidential election, is on his way to Florange.

At this moment, they are few on the spot to be in the confidence.

"We had known during the morning through his campaign team", recalls Philippe Tarillon, at the time PS mayor of the town.

“At the limit of having injuries”

At the origin of this visit: Jean-Marc Todeschini, then first secretary of the Moselle PS federation.

“The day before, François Hollande calls me and asks me what I think of a trip to Florange, says the socialist senator.

I tell him that there is no risk of overflow, but that the expectations are high.

It was decided very early in the morning.


For the inter-union, the surprise is up to the hopes placed in the candidate on the left.

“We knew that Florange was going to be decisive in the campaign, that each candidate would like to take a photo with us, recontextualizes Edouard Martin, former CFDT representative of ArcelorMittal.

On the other hand, we had no idea that Hollande was going to come with a cohort of journalists.

They came with a full bus!


Result: a compact crowd mixing factory employees, elected socialists from the region and journalists gathered on the picket line.

The gathering almost turns into a rat race.

“There was a beginning of jostling, recalls Philippe Tarillon.

At the time, there was not really a security service.

We were on the verge of having injuries.

I even almost took a camera in the eye!


"The image of the campaign"

It is noon when François Hollande decides to climb onto the roof of the inter-union van.

In the front row, the former Force Ouvrière leader Walter Broccoli widens his eyes: “I did not expect him to come up to make his speech.

“The trade unionist adds, teasingly: “I suspect that [Edouard] Martin prepared the coup upstream.

Philippe Tarillon disputes this hypothesis.

“François Hollande climbed into the van because there was no other practical solution.


Edouard Martin is annoyed by the assertion.

“It was not premeditated at all!

François Hollande was supposed to speak in front of the van, but there was such a rush.

At that moment, I said to Mr. Holland: "The best thing is for you to get on the van."

He replied: "Let's go".

It happened spontaneously.

“The former trade unionist assures him:” I was far from imagining that Hollande was going to go up.


Close to the former President of the Republic, Jean-Marc Todeschini salutes the flair of the candidate.

“He followed his instincts.

In terms of political communication, it was unexpected because it became the image of the campaign!

Even today, if he considers that François Hollande's initiative was spontaneous, the message was calculated.

“Before going up, he tells us that he will not make announcements that he cannot keep.

At the time, we all had in mind the arrival of Sarkozy in Gandrange.

But afterwards, there were interpretations… ”

"The feeling that Hollande took us for idiots"

On this point, Walter Broccoli does not have words harsh enough towards the future tenant of the Elysée: “The overall feeling is that Holland took us for idiots.

Since 2012, I have never voted socialist again.


The "mothballing" of the two blast furnaces, that is to say their extinction and de facto the end of the sector in the region, negotiated by the then Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault with ArcelorMittal and signed November 30, 2012, was experienced as "a betrayal" by Edouard Martin.

“It had the effect of a punch in the stomach…” For his part, Jean-Marc Todeschini refutes the term used by the former trade unionist: “There was no betrayal.

The Florange law, it exists.

If we had let Mittal do it, he could have condemned the site.


"It's no longer a pebble in his shoe, it's a rock"

Philippe Tarillon recognizes that the episode was "a symbol, in one way or another".

That of a "tearing over the way of doing things", which gradually hid the PS.

“Politically, I paid a high price because I lost all my mandates”, sighs the former mayor of Florange.

“All of this leaves a bitter taste…”

A symbol also of “broken promises” by the president, according to Edouard Martin: “The highlight is the one not kept in Florange.

It's no longer a pebble in his shoe, it's a rock.

To the point of handicapping François Hollande in the race for a second term?

Nearly five years later, he became the first resident of the Elysée to give up standing for the presidential election.


Presidential 2022: After the resounding transfer of Eric Woerth, we take stock of the political transfer window


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  • Lorraine

  • ArcelorMittal

  • Florange

  • Elections

  • Presidential election 2022

  • Francois Hollande

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