Aurore Bergé, the new face of 2.0 politics

This 30-year-old is very different from other politicians. First because she did not hesitate to leave the Les Républicains party after having been the digital director for candidate Juppé and to join Macron when former militants spend a lifetime within the same party. A pure product of the Y generation that does not hesitate to zap if it considers it justified. A feminist who has freedom under her skin and considers that the only real political weapon is an ndependence that takes place through a real job, outside of the political world and mainly not to stay there one’s entire life... Which does not prevent her from presenting herself as deputy during the June legislative elections. “We will see after the presidential elections”. Between a session distributing tracts and before a meeting in her communication agency, Aurore Bergé discussed with us her surprising itinerary in the world of politics. Feminism, misogyny: a very direct and honest interview.

Politics, a little girl’s dream?

I wouldn’t say it’s a dream, but it started very early. When I was a little girl, around ten-years-old, I wanted to be president of the United Nations. I know, it’s quite surprising. I was disappointed when my parents told me there was no UN president. When I was in high school, at 16-years-old, just after the 21st of April I enlisted. At the same time because I was surprised that my friend were not angry about what they were seeing. They were resigned, thinking that anyway Jean-Marie Le Pen would not win against Chirac. This debate did not take place in my private high school of Versailles, a city where the Front National has never done well.

This moment coincided with the creation of the UMP, which I joined a few months later. I found it stimulating to participate in the beginning of a party. In addition, I started working alongside someone very special and iconoclast, Etienne Pinte, who was the deputy mayor of Versailles and a far cry from the usual ideas of right wing deputies. He was very committed in terms of social lodgings, decency in jail, against the death penalty … I was very impressed by his integrity and his independence.

What’s your background?

Very early on, I wanted to attend Sciences Po, which seemed the most logical in terms of my political commitment. From simple activist, I progressively became in charge of the young UMP members of my department. I managed all the militant action of my federation for the young, right in the middle of the presidential campaign and with the arrival of Nicolas Sarkozy on the front burner.

New candidates, new campaign methods, new ideas…the 2007 campaign was very uplifting, much more then this current one. Then I became spokesperson for the national team of young UMP, and presented myself as candidate for the regional elections… Things developed naturally.

You’ve already worked in real life or you were always elected?

Being elected is not my job. I have a real job ! At Sciences Po, I did many internships beaucoup at the Assemblée Nationale, worked for the cabinet of Xavier Bertrand, the European Parliament with Roselyne Bachelot… When I finished Sciences Po, it was the period of the European campaigns in which I participated.

A European deputy asked me to work with him and during 8 months, I was his parliamentary assistant for all his communication and policy. But I wanted to work in the private sector to be more free and not depend on politicians. To be able to slam the door when I felt like it. For example, I was most for mixed weddings. Had I worked for a right wing parliamentary, he most probably would have asked me to keep quiet, since he would have been against. I did not want to live under a candidate’s proxy.

So I joined an events communication agency that led me to work for au Qatar as well as the Ivory Coast. I have just joined my third agency. I was headhunted by Hopscotch from whom I am now a manager revolving around media relations, digital influence, etc… Not everyone realizes it conscience, but communication is a real trade that one learns and deserves a strong capacity of adaptation.

Your tagline “Liberal, progressive, feminist” on Twitter is not happenstance…

No, indeed. It’s been a long lasting commitment. My parents have a very feminist behaviour, which my father is very proud of. Both my parents work, as did my grandmothers at the time. It’s not so much their militant side as their way of living on a daily basis.

For you what is feminism?

To start with it’s an obligation. Objectively, we are living a moment that is not very serene when it comes to that. The simple fact that abortion has become a subject of the presidential campaign in 2017, is for me a real subject of anxiety. Normally, the only question that one should ask is “How does one go about so that women have a serene to their rights”. And now we are wondering if abortion must be reimbursed, whether obstructurism must be repelled, in short, questions that are limitations of rights. For me it is obvious that this is a question of fundamental rights. I am worried about the ongoing regression on this very question.

The wager is not so much knowing which colour will the egg be inside the Kinder depending on the sex of the child. However, at school, methodologies are differentiated between boys and girls, and is one not locked into sexuated, gendered roles … Here is what is essential. I think the Government is on the wrong track when it comes to perceiving this at school and has turned into a topic of opposition between left and right. There must be equality of rights and as early as childhood.

 

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Is misogyny in politics still a real subject?

Yes, of course. It’s a real subject in all competitive areas where seats were held by men. Politics has been coded by and for men. Hence they must learn to compete with women, with people stemming diversity—in short there are less positions available than before. It’s not just misogyny and sexism.

Things could change with these upcoming elections. Already, 200 deputies are not vying for positions. The next Assembly in June should be more feminine and younger. Especially if Macron is elected (laughs). After, there is a sexism phenomenon that is added on with a system of corporation. Political men have a hard time to look at a women involved in politics. You can also have a paternalistic side, those who want to take you under their wing to explain everything. I already have a father, thank you!

What did the DSK affair change on terms of the subject?

Absolutely nothing. Because this was not just behaviour regarding women in politics. Just see what happened with the Denis Baupin story. The only thing that changed things in this last affair is that now women dare to speak out. I find them very brave because they put themselves in the spotlight while they really have nothing to win from it.

When Cécile Duflot sparks whistles at the National Assembly because she dares not wear a dress, how come not one guy gets up to tell the others to stop? He would have won a lot in terms of image. Not one stood up for her. There is definitely a sheep effect in terms of behaviour. And I’m not sure it will change with the new generation.

So when will there be a men-women parity at the National Assembly ?

It showed that women were just as competent as men. It’s the famous phrase of Françoise Giroud: “The day when there will be as many incompetent women as incompetent men, the parity will have won”. The gender is neutral. I would have preferred that there be no low forcing it, but it’s a necessary evil.

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What would amuse you if you changed careers?

Actually, I don’t know. I might be a candidate for the upcoming legislative elections in June. Maybe my life will be a little different in a few weeks, or not. I know that if I win, I will not do this for 30 years of my life. Maybe I will go live abroad, there are many job opportunities that temps me. I always dreamt of writing film scripts, I even feel like going back to study this. Maybe I will start a company. I don’t know if I will have the time to do everything!

What has the digital era changed in terms of politics?

What is very positive is that it allowed the emergence of people and ideas. The political functions has been descralized, because in one tweet it is not possible to make a statement, criticize etc. When you have a high political function, because of your agenda, you think you are meeting lots of people, but in fact it’s always people who agree with you. As opposed to the people on the social networks. It’s beneficial to take a pulse and corner trends.

The negative side is the rhythm that it has imposed. You have an instant obligation which in my opinion is not healthy. Politics is not the time of social networks. One cannot measure the effects of a reform. Political men and women have become real commentators, which leads them away from actual action. This is not the subject, that the work of editorialists, op-ed writers and journalists.

As for speaking time won on the networks, take Youtube and Mélenchon. His videos on Internet now have just as much impact as a morning radio. Show. The notion of speaking time in the media is totally obsolete. People have found new ways to be informed.

What is your favourite social network?

Twitter. I am totally addicted. I respond very regularly to people. And sometimes I also block some of them! It’s the one I use all day long, like an extension of myself. It’s part of my lifestyle, my way to consult the press, where I find my sources of information. The press comes to me through Twitter. I follow a great number of French and international journalists, think tanks...

LinkedIn, is strictly pro. I don’t put anything political on it. Facebook, is for personal stuff and politics. Instagram is a private account. It’s my way of life, I only accept people I really know.

Do you ever follow a digital detox?

Never !! I tried a little bit before the primary, when I took a week of holidays. I did turn off my phone at times. I had reserved a house on Airbnb, then I realized that in the description, it was written “No Wifi”. I did not understand. But I read and it was very positive for me.

During a campaign, how do you manage to breathe?

Thanks to my friends, people who are close to me. It’s the essential. The risk is being very auto-centered, and having healthy people around you who are not in politics is very beneficial. I have always been careful not to loose touch with my close friends. They and my family are my priority

What is your favourite political TV series?

The West Wing. It’s political dreamland, fantasized, with a Nobel Prise president, surrounded by a brilliant teams, that manages to resolve very complicated conflicts. I really liked Borgen, Madam Secretary, House of Cards… When I have the time, I watch them all!

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