The French left is running divided and weakened in the presidential race, as at least five main candidates have rejected any alliance with each other, and an online vote aimed at choosing a leader on Sunday appears doomed.
The leftists organized the so-called Popular Primaries as an initiative to unite their ranks ahead of the scheduled two-round elections on April 10 and 24.
More than 460,000 people have registered for the primary and the results of the four-day online vote are expected on Sunday night. But the move already seems doomed to fail: Key contenders said they wouldn’t respect the outcome because they don’t respect the process.
At least five leading figures from the left and far left are running for president, in addition to more minor candidates.
At the moment, none of them seem to be in a position to reach the second round in the April elections.
Centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who makes no secret of his intention to stand for re-election, is considered the favourite.
According to polls, conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse and two far-right figures, Marine le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are the main contenders, putting far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in fifth position.
Melenchon, a political firebrand with a notorious temper, refuses to form a united front with other leftist candidates.
The 70-year-old politician, who heads the “Rebel France” party, has promised to guarantee jobs for all, raise the minimum wage, lower the retirement age to 60 and raise taxes on multinationals and wealthy households. He also promised to reduce measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greens contender Yannick Jadot, 54, and Socialist candidate Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, 62, also rejected the idea of running together despite the longstanding traditional alliance between their parties.
Another candidate, Fabien Roussel, 52, is running for the Communist Party.
Hidalgo’s campaign has so far failed to arouse the enthusiasm of leftist voters. His once-powerful party remains weak after Macron’s election in 2017, when Socialist President Francois Hollande decided not to run for re-election amid unprecedented popularity.
Jadot unveiled his electoral platform at a rally in Lyon on Saturday, calling climate change the “greatest challenge” to face.
“The France of tomorrow must come out of the energies of the past,” he said. He promised not to build any new nuclear reactors in France and to progressively replace old ones with renewable energy, which he said could take up to 25 years. France relies on nuclear power for 70 percent of its power.
Jadot also pledged to fight social injustice by ensuring a state-funded minimum income of €920 for all adults living in poverty.
Earlier this month, another well-known figure on the left, former Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, joined the race in hopes of convincing others to join forces behind her candidacy.
So far, it hasn’t worked. Critics and rivals said his candidacy is further fragmenting the left.
Taubira, 69, is a staunch feminist and advocate for minorities. She is revered for championing a same-sex marriage bill in French law in 2013.
The last time she ran for president was in 2002, the first black woman to do so in France, and she got 2.3 percent of the vote.
He agreed to participate in the “Popular Primaries” along with some lesser candidates.
“It is embracing democracy, and democracy offers no guarantees. The result is unpredictable. It is a risk, but it is a risk that we have decided to take together,” Taubira told supporters this week in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.
But Jadot, Hidalgo and Melenchon said they would not comply with the result of the vote.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism