French people

Anne Hidalgo renews her call to the French left to choose a single presidential candidate | France

Anne Hidalgo, the French socialist presidential candidate, reiterated her call for the unity of her left rivals, saying the left risked collapsing in the face of the alarming rise of the far right.

“We are at a critical moment for our democracy,” Hidalgo said before a rally in Perpignan. “The left is in danger of disappearing. Hate speech and xenophobia have saturated the airwaves for months.

Taking the stage, she called on the other left-wing candidates not to divide the vote: “Wake up, see the danger that awaits us.” French voters felt “desperate and anguished” that the left was being drowned out of the political debate, she said.

Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, votes at a historic low between 3% and 5% for the first round of the presidential election in April. In a dramatic newscast ad last week, she said she supported a citizens’ vote in January to choose a leftist candidate who had the best chance of winning.

The left has never presented so many different presidential candidates at this point in the race. Among them, Yannick Jadot of the Greens; Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise, which has a program more to the left than the Socialist Party; and Fabien Roussel of the Communist Party. All have so far refused Hidalgo’s plea. They insist that they will run separate campaigns, although opinion polls each do not exceed 10% and may not reach the second ballot.

Roussel said the left’s problems run much deeper than just a “casting problem” to find a common candidate. “The problem with the left today is that it no longer speaks to the working class,” he said.

It is panic among some socialists. All left-wing candidates currently represent between 24 and 29% of the votes in the first round of April, against 43% 10 years ago. The left won in the last regional elections and there is a new generation of young left and green mayors in the big cities, but it is struggling on the national stage.

The far right is emerging as the most powerful force in the country and has taken working class voters to the left. Polls show it with at least 30% support with two major candidates. The traditional far-right figure Marine Le Pen is running for the third time, but she is competing with the great television specialist Eric Zemmour, convicted of inciting racial hatred, and who has launched a foreign candidacy for the presidential election, claiming that immigration and Islam will destroy France.

Hidalgo warned against “hate merchants … suffocating France” with their “morbid fantasies” of intolerance. She said she would not let Muslims be scapegoats or sit idly by while racist policies were discussed.

Emmanuel Macron is expected to declare his candidacy for re-election next month. Polls currently show that he qualifies for the last round of voting against either the right-wing Valérie Pécresse, who has risen in the polls, or a far-right candidate.

Left-wing voters took to the streets of Paris and across France this weekend to urge left-wing parties to join the “people’s primary”, a citizens’ initiative for a mid-January vote to choose a left-wing candidate with the best chance of winning.

“It is very demoralizing that the left is not able to perform well in the presidential race, when more and more people have participated in the climate marches as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, and when we we want social justice and an appropriate environment. protection, ”said Emma, ​​25, community manager for a health charity who lives in the southwestern suburbs of Paris.

During the Paris demonstration, many hoped that a new figure would step into the ring: Christiane Taubira, former Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament whom her supporters would like to see become the first black woman president of France.

Taubira, who introduced same-sex marriage in 2013 while serving in the socialist government of Francois Hollande, is also known for the 2001 law recognizing slavery as a crime against humanity. It has been described by political science professor Rémi Lefebvre as “the moral conscience of the left”.

A recent L’Obs magazine poll found she was the preferred candidate for left voters, but she has yet to say whether she would consider running at this late stage and under difficult circumstances with the left divided into different factions. The Obs poll found that 86% of left supporters would like a single candidate to run for a united left.

“The left is low in the polls and it is divided,” said Gérard Grunberg, political scientist and director of the Telos site. “No force really wants to ally with another, there is no strategy … What is fundamental is the disappearance of the center left. For the first time since the founding of the Socialist Party more than a century ago, there is no force in the center left.

Grunberg said the party’s current low score confirms its poor performance in the last presidential election of 2017, in which Macron won the center-left election when Hollande failed to re-run after his presidency. got bogged down in internal quarrels and internal disputes over economic policy. .