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05/12/2016

Yannick Jadot named Green Party candidate for French presidential election

Elections

Yannick Jadot named Green Party candidate for French presidential election

Yannick Jadot at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

[European Parliament]

Yannick Jadot beat his rival Michèle Rivasi in the second round of the French Green Party’s election primary, but the ecologists will go into the election divided. EurActiv France reports.

The MEP now faces the monumental task of mobilising the French electorate, many of whom do not even see the point of the ecologists’ candidacy.

But at least Jadot’s realistic attitude towards his slim chances in next year’s presidential election appears to have won over his party.

In the second round of the French Green Party’s primary, the MEP earned the right to appear on the 2017 ballot paper, taking 54.25% of the vote to beat his European Parliament colleague Michèle Rivasi (40.75%).

Jadot’s realism was not shared by Rivasi, whose campaign insisted that nothing is impossible. This was one of the few differences separating the two candidates, whose campaigns were otherwise very similar.

The candidates are both MEPs and former members of the NGO Greenpeace, and Rivasi is the vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Greens/EFA group. But both are also relatively unknown in domestic French politics.

In the first round, Jadot took 35.61% of the vote and Rivasi 30.16%, eliminating the favourite for the Green candidacy Cécile Duflot, a member of the French parliament.

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The seven candidates vying for the French right’s presidential nomination squared off again in their second televised debate last night (3 November). But European issues were largely absent from the proceedings. EurActiv France reports.

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The final obstacle

The only obstacle now standing between Jadot and the ballot paper is the requirement for candidates to collect 500 signatures from elected politicians, nominating them to stand. Given the divisions within the French Green Party, his success cannot be taken for granted.

But as a virulent opponent of the EU’s recently-signed free trade deal with Canada (CETA) and the deal under negotiation with the United States (TTIP), Jadot is building a support base on social media.

An intervention on CETA in the European Parliament, in which the MEP condemned the EU’s liberal trade policy, became something of a viral hit. Shared on Jadot’s Facebook page, the video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

Whether or not this helps the Greens to improve their polling numbers remains to be seen. Before her elimination, Duflot’s popularity with the electorate stood at between 2% and 3%.

Another sign that the candidate will struggle to sway voters is the idea shared by more than half of French citizens that there is no point presenting a Green candidate at all.

A poll carried out by Elabe for BFMTV revealed that 53% of voters thought the presence of the Greens on the ballot paper was pointless, while just 12% believed it was “absolutely necessary”.