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06/12/2016

French far-Left divided for European elections

EU Elections 2014

French far-Left divided for European elections

New Anticapitalist Party protests in Rennes, France, 2009. [FreeRainer/Flickr]

Despite numerous attempts to broker a deal, the French New Anticapitalist Party will not present candidate lists for the European Elections with the Left Front, highlighting divisions among the far-left for the European elections. EurActiv France reports.

The New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) plans to go it alone for the European elections. On 2 April, its leader, Olivier Besancenot, unveiled its five candidate lists in France.

Olivier Besancenot, former candidate for the French presidential election in 2002 and 2007, will lead the party’s Ile-de-France list, marking his return to politics.

“I never quite the activist scene, but I decided to lead the Ile-de-France list because of the current social and political emergency,” Besancenot said.

He will be accompanied by Philippe Poutou, NPA candidate for the French presidential election in 2012 who will also run in the European elections.

Not united

A French far-left alliance will not present itself for the European elections, despite the NPA’s numerous attempts to broker a deal with other far-left parties.

“We reached out to the Communist Party, Workers’ Struggle and the Left Party, but to no avail,” claimed Christine Poupin, NPA candidate and spokesperson. “We believe it would have been beneficial for these elections to present joint lists venting our opposition to austerity, which is defended by the French government and the EU,” she said.

The Left Party sees things differently. Jean-Luc Mélenchon stated that “the NPA accepted to be on our lists the day after we closed them…”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Party and Pierre Laurent’s Communist Party have joined with the Left Party for the European elections, but not without difficulty. The Workers’ Struggle has decided to go it alone.

Not divided

The NPA claims that even though the French far-left did not manage to build a common alliance for the European elections, it is not divided. “It did not stop us from protesting together on April 12 against austerity, or from being united in making common proposals,” said Christine Poupin.

“I hope we present common lists with the NPA and the Greens in the regional elections,” stated Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

For the time being, a study by OpinionWay gives the French Left Party 7% of the voting intentions, while the NPA and the Workers’ Struggle are set to receive just 1% each.

Anti-austerity

The NPA has focused its European campaign on the fight against austerity. At the presentation of their European elections candidate list, Christine Poupin used “austerity, anti-social, anti-democratic” to describe the EU.

>> Read: French alternative parties take on European elections

“The established parties have been discredited and the French people do not feel represented. This government does not represent us, neither do the European institutions. We want an anti-capitalist and united Europe,” Poupin explained.

On a social level, the NPA advocates for a common European minimum income, a ban on redundancies, and a work-sharing policy based on the reduction of working-hours. The party also proposes to increase all wages, pensions and allowances.

Financial difficulties

The NPA is experiencing financial difficulties which are seriously undermining their ability to present candidates for the European elections. Following mediocre results in the 2012 parliamentary elections, the NPA’s finances were cut and the party had to establish membership fees in 2013 to raise €1 million.

This is also why the NPA is only presenting lists for five of the eight French constituencies. It is the threshold necessary to have access to the free audio-visual campaign that will be aired on French television.

Background

Just five weeks before the European elections, France's New Anticapitalist Party unveiled its candidates for the European elections in May.

The NPA will be present in just five of eight French constituencies, due to financial difficulties.

The five main candidates are Oliver Besancenot (Ile-de-France), Christine Poupin (North-West), Gaël Diaferia (East), Pierre Le Méhanès (West) and Philippe Poutou (South-West).

Timeline

  • 25 May:  European elections in France