French left must unite to triumph in presidential election, activists say

More than 180,000 people have signed a petition calling on left-wing parties in France to join forces in the next presidential elections in 2022 in the country to defeat a multitude of right-wing figures.

Activists organized a “Popular Primary” which would present a single “social and ecological” candidate to compete in the April elections.

“The message of this popular primary is to say that we have ecological emergencies and social emergencies that we cannot deny. We must act and to act, we must win the next elections. And to win it, it’s simple, you have to be together and not be divided, “Cléo Belaïche, spokesperson for the association behind the primary effort, told Euronews.

They have reduced this “citizen” presidential primary to ten candidates who have until November 30 to decide whether they will participate in the January vote.

Currently, three main left-wing candidates have already declared that they would run for president: Yannick Jadot, who won the Greens primary; Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party; and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from his far left party France Unbowed.

They are also nominated among 10 candidates – five women and five men – for the popular primary.

While Jadot, Hidalgo and Mélenchon have shown no interest in running for the popular primary, so far three other chosen candidates have agreed to participate.

But all three are currently voting below 8%, according to an IFOP opinion poll in October, far behind outgoing President Emmanuel Macron, far-right figures Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, and Xavier Bertrand, on the right. , who will compete for the Nomination of Republicans in December.

“What is clear is that if there isn’t a single left-wing candidate, there’s very, very little chance that one of those left-wing candidates will win the election. So in a sense , they must unite if they want to win, ”said Simon Persico, a researcher at SciencesPo Grenoble specializing in environmental parties.

But Persico says that is unlikely to happen as each of the candidates wants to continue to exist in the French system.

“The presidential election is really important to exist in the political landscape,” said Persico, adding that supporting another candidate could have repercussions on their parties.

Popular Primary activists are not giving up.

They organized sit-ins in front of each of the three-party headquarters to put pressure on environmentalists, socialists and the far left France Unbowed to support the primary.

They say the stakes are high amid a climate emergency and growing social inequalities.

A recent study showed the impact of the measures taken during the Macron presidency: he said that the richest 1% saw their purchasing power increase the most and that only the poorest 5% of households did not see their standard of living increase under his administration.

“We need a primary because citizens need to reconnect with politics to decide who can represent ideas in order to respond to ecological and social emergencies in 2022,” Belaïche said.

She also deplored the increase in the abstention rate during the elections in France.

Catherine Corsini, a director who recently released a film that takes place in a hospital during a Yellow Vest protest, said in an interview that it was incredible that there was no more will left to unite.

“Every time a new candidacy is announced, it infuriates me. I wanted to hit them,” she told Mediapart in a video interview.

The initiative gained attention in part because of the number of supporting signatures it received – already larger than the Green Party primary and the number of Socialist Party members.

This is even more than the number of party members who will vote in the right-wing Republican party in early December.

He also received support from some of the well-known political figures chosen by supporters to run for the popular primary.

“Getting together is a very difficult challenge, but it is requested by young people more engaged and impatient than ever,” tweeted former Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, one of the ten candidates.

Taubira, who has said she will not run for president in 2022 so as not to increase the number of candidates, is backing the primary and told organizers they were right in saying 2022 must bring about a change.

The “popular primary” is scheduled to take place between Jan. 13 and 16 and would use a majority voting system where voters rank their approval of as many candidates as they want.

“We have much more in common between us than we have in common with Mr. Zemmour, with Macron or with Le Pen”, specifies Belaïche.

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