Analysis. Eight left-wing candidates are in the race, but Taubira’s entry will shake up the field. Her platform is not yet well-defined. She spoke of increasing the minimum wage and taxing assets over €10 million.

Christiane Taubira, icon of the left, is running for president of France

The goal is to shake up the left and get to the point of having a single candidacy in the presidential elections. Christiane Taubira, Hollande’s former Minister of Justice, who enjoys an aura of being an “icon” of the left, officially announced her candidacy on Sunday.

For now, Taubira is just one more candidate on the left, which now counts at least eight figures, all competing for no more than 25% of the voters, while no one currently exceeds 10% in the polls. Taubira has promised that she will submit to the verdict of the “popular primary,” an initiative of a group of citizens and activists who will organize an online vote from January 27-30 among registered members (numbering 120,000 so far) to choose between the different candidates.

The problem is that practically none of the main left-wing candidates accepts the idea of the “popular primary”: Anne Hidalgo (PS), who at first seemed to be in favor of this notion, has now changed her mind; Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France Insoumise) essentially told everyone off: “fight amongst yourselves and leave me alone”; Yannick Jadot (Greens) said once more “that’s not my position, I’ve already said it a hundred times.”

But the promoters of the “popular primary” have nonetheless put seven candidates on the ballot, including the recalcitrant Mélenchon, Hidalgo and Jadot, alongside some semi-unknowns (Anna Agueb-Porterie, Charlotte Marchandise, Pierre Larrouturou). The star of the “popular primary” is Taubira, who will probably finish at the top in the poll, which is organized on the “preferential judgment” system: each voter will give a “grade” to all the candidates, from “insufficient” to “passable,” “good enough,” “good” and “very good.”

The announcement of Taubira’s candidacy has thrown the main competitors into disarray. Mélenchon, who is also having trouble finding the 500 signatures from elected officials needed to validate his candidacy, is convinced he is the only one who has a chance of making it to the ballot. Jadot thinks the same thing about himself. Hidalgo is feeling cornered: the PS is more and more in shambles, with polls that give her around 4% (i.e. below the minimum threshold of 5% to get the reimbursement of campaign expenses from the state). And the mayor of Marseille, the socialist Benoît Payan (elected by the coalition of the printemps marseillais) and the PS president of the Bourgogne region, Marie-Guite Dufray, have already stated they will support the winner of the “popular primary” (so most likely Taubira).

Arnaud Montebourg, Hollande’s former minister but a “frondist,” is expected to withdraw his candidacy and throw his support behind Taubira.

The platform of the latter, originally from Guyana, is not yet well defined: on Sunday, at the official launch of her candidacy in Lyon, in the Croix-Rousse district (which was at the center of the struggle of the silk weavers in the 19th century, but today is a “bobo neighborhood”), Taubira spoke of “anger,” “social justice,” an increase in the minimum wage, an allowance of €800 for five years for young university students and taxes on assets over €10 million. She called ecology “the deal of the century,” but her promised economic policy is still unclear. On Europe—one of the main points of dispute among the left-wing candidates—the only thing known is that she voted “no” in the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty in 2005.

Sunday was a hot day in the election campaign. The right-wing candidate of the Républicains, Valérie Pécresse, was in Greece, defending the walls against refugees. And Marine Le Pen, who already sees herself in the runoff against Macron, released a video filmed in front of the Louvre (where Macron had made his victory speech in 2017), while the museum protested and made it known that the filming had been unauthorized.

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