Realistic or radical? The French Greens choose their presidential candidate
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A former Greenpeace activist who aims to unite the fractured French left will fight from Saturday with a self-proclaimed radical “eco-feminist” for the presidential nomination of the French Greens.
Seven months from the polls, Yannick Jadot, a 54-year-old MEP, faces the 49-year-old economist Sandrine Rousseau in the second round of the primary of Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV).
Regardless of who is in the lead when the results are announced on Tuesday, neither are expected to be among Emmanuel Macron’s top challengers in the presidential race.
The Greens political movement in France so far lacks the national firepower of its counterparts in Germany, where the Greens have a chance to feature in a coalition government after Sunday’s elections.
But after the spectacular gains made by the EELV in last year’s municipal elections – the party swept the boards of several major cities – the environment has confirmed itself as a major concern for voters.
Jadot, the only nationally recognized member of the Greens, was expected to easily win the nomination on the promise of pragmatic “solution-oriented” environmental policies.
But Rousseau, the former deputy leader of the party, created a surprise in the first round of online voting last week, finishing second out of five candidates with 25.14%, against 27.7% for Jadot.
Jean-Daniel Levy of the Harris Interactive polling institute told AFP that his studies showed that Rousseau would only get 2% of the votes cast nationally if chosen, against 6% for Jadot.
He said in the wider left, Jadot was neck and neck with Hidalgo whose candidacy got off to a slow start.
“The potential is greater for Jadot because he can rally disappointed Macron supporters, who would find it difficult to return to a socialist candidate,” Lévy told AFP.
– Feminist references –
Analysts attributed the strong performance to Rousseau’s feminist credentials after she went public with allegations of sexual harassment against a Green leader during the #MeToo movement.
Her sweeping proposals on the economy and the environment – she wants to introduce a living wage and dramatically increase fuel prices and raise taxes on the rich – have also mobilized the party base.
As a sign of the interest aroused by the competition, more than 122,000 people registered to vote between September 25 and 28, four times the number that took place during the 2012 Greens primary.
The race is closely watched by the two main left parties, the Socialists and the far left France Unbowed, both of whom fear losing votes to the Greens.
While Rousseau is seen as more likely to win the votes of the leader of France Unbowed, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the more moderate Jadot, is seen as a threat to Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, also a candidate for the Presidency.
Most analysts expect the April elections to be a duel between Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen while stressing that the emergence of a serious competitor to the traditional right could further upset these calculations.
© 2021 AFP