Former French justice minister Christiane Taubira launched her candidacy on Saturday to unite France’s struggling left and challenge President Emmanuel Macron in April’s presidential elections, but she faces a slew of reluctant contenders to give up the limelight.
“I am pledging here before you because I share your aspiration for a different kind of government,” Taubira told supporters in Lyon at his campaign’s official launch.
Taubira, the justice minister in the 2012-2017 administration of Socialist President Francois Hollande, castigated “top-down power and the lack of social dialogue” under Macron and vowed to fight for higher wages, more better conditions for pupils and students as well as the health and environmental protection service.
Taubira, 69, was born in the French South American territory of Guyana where she served as an MP. She is admired on the left after fighting for a law recognizing the slave trade as a crime against humanity and for enshrining same-sex marriage in statutes in 2013 as justice minister.
“We will do all of this together, because that is what we are capable of,” she told a cheering crowd holding signs reading “With Taubira”.
But she risks becoming one of six candidates jostling for votes among the roughly 30% of the electorate leaning to the left.
They range from the instigator Jean-Luc Mélenchon – the highest rated in the polls compiled by the weekly JDD at almost 10% – to the candidate of the Greens Yannick Jadot and the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo at 6.5 and 3, 5%.
A January poll gave Taubira around 4.5% support.
“If she somehow manages to unite the reformists who remain behind her, then her candidacy could be a game-changer,” political analyst Thomas Guénolé told TUSEN on Monday, while warning quickly: “ Without unity, however, she will become just one more person.” element of a ‘balkanised’ (and hopeless) left.
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On the right, three challengers – conservative Valérie Pécresse, traditional far-right leader Marine Le Pen and insurgent television pundit Éric Zemmour – are likely to face incumbent President Macron in the second round of the election.
Although he has yet to declare his candidacy, the president himself enjoys the highest first-round ratings with about one in four voters.
Taubira’s supporters say she has the power to stoke “fire” among leftists, who have been the biggest losers after the traditional left-right political divide collapsed since Macron’s shock presidential victory in 2017.
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The former minister “wants to be the antidote to the weariness of left-wing voters, who no longer support fragmentation”, said Christian Paul, a supporter of Taubira and mayor of the small town of Lormes in central France. .
One of the tools Taubira has bet on is a so-called “popular primary” of around 120,000 registered voters that will crown the preferred leftist candidate.
But while Taubira has pledged to respect the outcome, other key candidates have refused to commit to the process.
(TUSEN with TUSEN)