French left-wing bloc divided over legislative nominees

The nominations are not boding well with certain currents from the Socialist Party (PS) and the Communists. Only the Greens appear so far content with the agreement. [Shutterstock/Obatala-photography]

France’s new left-wing union has reached a compromise on sharing constituencies ahead of the legislative elections in June despite not everyone agreeing on the choice of nominees. EURACTIV France reports.

In an unprecedented move, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Green Party joined forces with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s radical-left La France Insoumise movement after their defeat in the April presidential elections.

With legislative elections in June, the group wants to challenge the parliamentary majority of newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron. They have agreed to a compromise solution when dividing up constituencies.

However, the compromise solution is not boding well with certain currents from the Socialist Party (PS) and the Communists. Only the Greens appear so far content with the agreement.

A group of dissidents

According to the agreement, 70 of 577 constituencies are divided between Socialists, while the Communists and the Greens are set to get respectively 50 and 100*.

Occitanie President Carole Delga of the Socialist Party strongly opposes the deal with the radical left and has organised a rebellion in her region since last week.

Opposed to the “distribution of seats among cronies” and the “liquidation of the Socialist Party”, she told Le Parisien that she backs other dissidents in several constituencies – including Rémi Branco and Katy Guyot who said they would oppose the candidates nominated by the Left alliance.

Lozère’s Socialist Mayor Laurent Suau, who was recently officially sworn in by Macron to represent his majority in the legislative elections, even showed support to Delga despite her not yet having publicly confirmed her support for Macron.

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Nepotism

Mélenchon’s son-in-law, Gabriel Amard, has been nominated as the candidate in Rhône’s sixth constituency, Villeurbanne, which traditionally leans left and consistently voted socialist or communist before falling into the hands of the presidential majority in 2017.

Cristina Martineau, the socialist candidate, officially nominated by her party to run for the constituency, called Amard’s nomination a symbol of “nepotism, machismo, parachuting“.

Amard’s nomination is all the more difficult to swallow as he has run as a candidate in many other territories like Isère and Essonne since 2002.

More tensions

Not far from Villeurbanne, tensions continue between La France Insoumise and the French Communist Party.

For the Vénissieux constituency, the left-wing agreement appointed France Insoumise candidate Taha Bouhafs, though Vénissieux Mayor Michèle Picard of the Communist Party said she wanted to maintain her candidacy.

Bouhafs, who was also accused of being imposed without taking into account local sensibilities, said he would withdraw due to media pressure – after which Manuel Bompard, the campaign director of La France Insoumise, then wrote on Twitter that his party “will choose his candidacy and nobody else.”

Injustice

The nomination of La France Insoumise member Danielle Simonet, Mélenchon’s protégé, for the north of Paris, has also been called unjust by Lamia El Aaraje, who said she would maintain her candidacy with the support of the Parisian Socialist Party and ex-prime minister Lionel Jospin.

Simonet lacks a strong local presence in the area, according to El Aaraje, who pointed to her win against her in Paris’15th constituency in 2021.

“She decided to run […] in my constituency, and I beat her. And it is me who is being told that I must withdraw?” she told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

El Aaraje is now appealing directly to Mélenchon, who she says must “assume the crisis that this is generating” if he does not withdraw his nominee from the list.

Dividing constituencies between left-wing candidates was expected to be a challenging exercise. However, the opposition the nominations have received could mean that keeping left-wing parties united ahead of the legislative elections will be easier said than done.

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[Edited by Alice Taylor]

*[Update made on 18 May 2022: correction of an error on the number of constituencies reserved for green parties]

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