Benoît Hamon’s movement launches European election list on its own

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Having failed to bring the French left together with his plans for citizen voting, Benoît Hamon presented the first 30 names on the list of the Génération.s movement. EURACTIV France reports.

In the end, Hamon’s Génération.s movement launched its list for the European elections on its own in Paris on 26 February. It comprised 30 names in no particular order and was accompanied by a left-wing, ecological programme.

In recent weeks, the former socialist candidate for the French presidential election has tried to rally the left around a project involving citizen voting. This participatory tool was supposed to form a united list for the European elections on the basis of preferential voting by supporters.

However, none of the left-wing parties heeded the call. Yannick Jadot, lead candidate for the French Greens, immediately rejected the idea of such voting, instead preferring to go it alone on the issue of ecology.

This idea was not very popular among the other parties and movements either, including the French Socialist Party (PS), Place publique, La France Insoumise and the French Communist Party (PCF). However, “the door remains open,” Hamon has insisted.

In the meantime, the movement’s draft programme for the European elections that was revealed at the press conference repeated the main themes used in the French presidential election campaign.

“We’re an ecologist and left-wing list,” Hamon said.

He called for political ecology, which would include the launch of a “new green deal” at the European level and an ambitious asylum policy, as well as the establishment of European taxes to contribute to the common budget, including a wealth tax and a “robot tax.”

A further measure is making the right to abortion a prerequisite for membership of the European Union.

French left struggles to find unity for European elections

There are increasing calls for unity within the French left, which is divided like never before. But with less than four months to go until the European elections, attempts to bring left-wing groups together are struggling to gain traction. EURACTIV France reports.

“Outbreak of citizen strength”

“There are a lot of working people on the Génération.s list,” Hamon explained, running through the 30 names he is expected to lead. The list will also have to be endorsed by Génération.s supporters.

The candidates include outgoing socialist MEPs Guillaume Balas and Isabelle Thomas. Former socialist MEP Édouard Martin has also joined Génération.s but will not stand again for a second mandate.

Around a third of the list is made up of candidates from civil society, such as Sabrina Benmokhtar, a student in Nancy who works in a supermarket to fund her studies.

This opening up of the party is not unlike what occurred with the centrist La République En Marche (LREM) during the 2017 French legislative elections and the ‘yellow vest’ movement is also currently hoping for something similar.

Moreover, of the 916 nominations received, 30% came from people who are not members of the movement. “Currently, political parties are fragile and we need an outbreak of citizen strength to revive the debate,” Hamon explained.

“We proposed this citizen voting because, today, nobody is solely represented by one political party any more. But by refusing this and by side-lining citizens, the political parties are side-lining themselves. What are we to do if, with the ‘yellow vest movement,’ it is not understood that citizen involvement has become a necessity?” Hamon asked.

“We’ll be the surprise of this election,” MEP Balas said, in a claim that will have to be built on during the campaign. According to a poll by Ipsos-Sopra Steria, Hamon’s list would gain 5% of votes, the same as the official French Socialist Party list (5%), but less than Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) (8%) and La France Insoumise (8%).

In Europe, Génération.s can already count on a few allies – such as the DiEM25 movement, whose lead candidate is former Greek finance minister Yanis Varousfakis – which are brought together within the “European Spring” movement. Génération.s also has allies in Poland (Razem), Italy (Dema) and Denmark (Alternativet).

Varoufakis: There is no real European Left, I am running against them

Yanis Varoufakis, the Spitzenkandidat for leftist Democracy in Europe (DiEM25), told EURACTIV Germany it was “painful” but he would run against the European Left, which is not united and civilised.

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