The French left is divided and weakened in this year’s presidential race as at least five traditional presidential candidates have rejected any alliance between them – and an online vote to choose a leader on Sunday looks doomed.
The so-called popular primary was organized by left-wing supporters to unite their ranks ahead of France’s two-round presidential election on April 10 and 24.
More than 460,000 people have registered for the primary. The results of the four-day online vote are expected on Sunday evening. But the move already seems doomed: the main contenders say they won’t respect the outcome because they don’t respect the process.
At least five leading candidates ranging from the left to the far left are running for president, in addition to lesser-known candidates. For the moment, none of them seem able to reach the second round for the April elections.
Centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who does not hide his intention to run again, is considered the favorite. Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse and two far-right figures, Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are the main challengers according to the polls, placing far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in fifth position.
Melenchon – a political firebrand with a notorious temper – refuses to form a united front with other leftist candidates. The 70-year-old politician, who leads the ‘La France Rebel’ party, has promised to guarantee jobs for all, raise the minimum wage, lower the retirement age to 60 and raise the taxes of multinationals and wealthy households.
Greens candidate Yannick Jadot, 54, and Socialist candidate, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, 62, also rejected the idea of running together despite a traditional alliance between their parties. Another candidate, Fabien Roussel, 52, is running for the Communist Party.
Hidalgo’s campaign has so far failed to generate enthusiasm among leftist voters. His once powerful party remains weakened after Macron’s victory in 2017 – when Socialist President Francois Hollande decided not to stand for re-election amid unprecedented approval ratings.
Jadot unveiled his election platform Saturday at a rally in Lyon, saying climate change is the “biggest challenge” facing voters and politicians.
“The France of tomorrow must get out of the energies of the past,” he said. He promised not to build new nuclear reactors in France and to gradually replace old ones with renewable energy, which he said could take up to 25 years. France now depends on nuclear power for 70% of its energy.
Jadot has also pledged to fight social injustice by guaranteeing a state-funded minimum income of 920 euros ($1,026) to all adults living in poverty.
Earlier this month, another well-known figure on the left, former justice minister Christiane Taubira, joined the race in hopes of convincing others to join her candidacy.
So far it hasn’t worked. Critics and rivals both say his candidacy is further splintering the French left.
Taubira, 69, is a staunch feminist and champion of minorities. She is revered for championing a same-sex marriage bill into French law in 2013. She last ran for president in 2002, the first black woman to do so in France, winning 2.3 % voices.
She agreed to participate in the “People’s Primary” with some lesser candidates.
“It’s embracing democracy and democracy offers no guarantees. The outcome is unpredictable. It’s a risk, but it’s a risk we chose to take together,” she said this week. to his supporters in the city of Bordeaux, in the south-west.
But Jadot, Hidalgo and Mélenchon said they would not abide by the vote result.
Barbara Surk in Nice contributed to this report.