The defeat of Manuel Valls in the French parliamentary elections, after his failure to make the cut in the first round, which required a finish among the top two candidates for the constituency where he ran - an electorate that included French residents in Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Monaco - may be the swan song in public life of the former French prime minister. After his failed political venture in the city of Barcelona, Valls had returned to Paris in search of a seat in the National Assembly that would justify his residence in the capital and allow him to re-situate himself in French politics while awaiting better times.
The third place he achieved behind the ecologist Renaud Le Berre and the current MP Stéphane Vojetta is a real slap in the face, because it prevents him from going through to the second round. In fact, Sunday's election also brought further bad news for Valls: he was first in Portugal and Monaco, but failed in Spain and Andorra. The places where Valls has been most involved in politics are where he received voter punishment, to the point of leaving him with no option of aspiring to the seat he held between June 2002 and October 2018, then as a representative of the French Socialist Party. This time, he was appearing under the umbrella of Emmanuel Macron's La République en Marché, although the French president had handed him a real poisoned chalice, because Vojetta was standing for the same party, and it was he who came out tops in the end.
Although in politics there are people who have a thousand lives and always manage to bubble to the surface in the worst situations, Manuel Valls will not have it easy this time, because his latest movements have been a failure, both in Barcelona and in France. The first reactions via Twitter, before he deleted his account, noted that after the defeat it now fell to him to draw conclusions - in a "lucid" way - and that life was beautiful enough "to calmly turn a page". Clearly signalling an exit from the political stage, if not the irreversible fall of the final curtain on his role.
It is now four years since he touched down in Barcelona with the aim of becoming mayor of the Catalan capital, encouraged by a group of proxies from the Upper Diagonal circle, who naively believed that from the backrooms they could put an end to Ada Colau's municipal reign and by spending enough they could make Valls into the next mayor. There was no shortage of money for Operation Valls, but the manoeuvre fell thousands of votes short of working. Valls finished with a poor result but enough councillors to make a mark on the re-election of Colau, the politician who was to be removed: Barcelona's elites, as a result of their haste and ignorance, pushed aside the winner Ernest Maragall in favor of Colau, who thus found herself with four more years as mayor.
The photo of Valls voting for Colau as municipal leader is one for history, as one of the most surprising manoeuvres of the French politician. In the end, in politics, you have to be able to explain yourself and Colau paid a high political toll for accepting votes that she always felt publicly uncomfortable with. In fact, it showed her as willing to resort to a level of chicanery that you don't often find even in the traditional parties. At the end of the day, she wanted the mayoralty and Valls, the wounded Valls, gave it to her.