The outsiders you'll never hear about who could (in theory) become the French president

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The outsiders you'll never hear about who could (in theory) become the French president
Photo: AFP and Union Populaire Républicaine/ Wikimedia
15:20 CET+01:00
There's Le Pen, Fillon, Macron, Hamon etc but what about the other candidates who have officially qualified to run for the French presidency? Here's what you need to know, just in case they win.

In the French system, anyone can run to become president, providing they gather 500 signatures from elected officials to support their campaign by March 17th. 

As well as the mainstream candidates you'll have already heard of, there are a few smaller hopefuls who have managed to pass the all important 500 mark.

And some of them have got some pretty out-there ideas for France, take a look. 

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

Photo: Debout La France/ Wikimedia

The nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan likes harking back to the days when General de Gaulle ruled France and wants make the country more patriotic. He founded his party Debout La France (France Arise) in 1999, and it had reached 15,000 members in 2015.  

As a mate of former Ukip leader and fellow anti-EU figure Nigel Farage, Dupont-Aignan was naturally over the moon at Brexit and wants to push for a Frexit.

“It's now or never. The British have an historic chance to escape from prison and when you see a prison door open up, you have to get out,” he told The Local before the referendum last June.

“And when the French get the same vote one day, there's no doubt they will vote to leave the EU,” he added.

Like his fellow nationalist Marine Le Pen he wants to get rid of the Euro, and go back to the Franc as well as favouring companies that have a more patriotic stance and push the "Made in France" label.

Dubbed the "king of buzz" by Franceinfo radio news network, he's known for his unusual campaigns and political stunts such as crossing the French border with a kalashnikov rifle in his boot to make a point about security or popping up in motorway toll booths to talk to voters, offering to pay their fare if they speak to him. 

Dupont-Aignan is furious that TF1 haven't invited him to the official candidates' debate later on this month. The TV channel only sent out invitations to the candidates which are expected to win at least 10 percent of the votes, and Dupont-Aignan is only expected to gain 3 percent. 

But at a respectable 707 sponsors, he will still be running for election.

Nathalie Arthaud

Photo: Toufik-de-Planoise/ Wikimedia

At only 18, Nathalie Arthaud joined France's long-standing Trotskyist party, the Lutte Ouvrière. A part-time teacher in a high-school in Seine Saint Denis, she's since climbed up the ranks to become the party leader.

Arthaud first ran in 2012 when she obtained 0.56 percent in the first round, or 200,000 votes.

With a strong worker's programme, she plans to bar companies from laying off workers if they're making a profit, in an attempt to curb mass unemployment.

She recently declared on RMC that France's minimum wage isn't enough for people to live with dignity and that it should be raised from €1,457 to a minimum of €1,800 net a month. 

With 637 signatures in the bag so far she's able to run as an official candidate in 2017. 

François Asselineau

Photo: Thomas Bresson/ Wikimedia

He created his right wing party Union Populaire Républicaine ten years ago, but between 2012 and today, it's seen an explosion in membership, the number of members soaring from 700 to over 16,500.

His rhetoric has been called both anti-US and underpinned by conspiracy theories, Asselineau believes there are subliminal US images in French party logos.     

His career has largely been in economics, and he's a tax inspector for France's audit body Inspection Général des Finances (IGF)

He wants to get rid of the Euro and leave NATO. He also wants a Frexit and thinks Le Pen's National Front are too moderate on the issue of sovereignity.

François Asselineau prefers to stay away from the "media censorship", and uses social media instead to promote his ideas. His army of supporters have put up 200,000 posters across France, and plan to add another 150,000 in the upcoming weeks.

After failing to obtain enough signatures in 2012, he has made the cut this year at 587.

Jacques Cheminade

Photo: AFP

Notorious for his headline grabbing ideas, one of his campaign promises is to colonise mars and industrialise the moon. Other "Cheminaderies" as they've been dubbed, (a play on words on the French word for bullsh*t) include comparing Barack Obama to Hitler, and accusing the Queen of England of being involved in international drug trafficking

He founded his party Solidarité et progrès in 1996, and it serves as the French branch of the US LaRouche movement, lead by American political extremist Lyndon LaRouche. In 2005, Cheminade's party was listed as a 'political sect' by French governmental agency.

His key aim is to change the international financial system and his campaign strapline this year is "let's liberate ourselves from the financial occupation."

Cheminade has managed to pass the 500 mark at 528 signatures.

Jean Lassalle

Photo: AFP

The small town mayor is known as the "shepherd of the political world", hailing from a family of shepherds.

Candidate for the centrist "MoDem" democratic movement party, he has said that France has no confidence in anything anymore, and is famous for his 2006 hunger strike against a factory relocation and his walk across France to "meet the people" in 2013

With 708 signatures, Lassalle is another surprise candidate for the election. 

Philippe Poutou

Photo: AFP

Poutou splits his time between Ford factory worker and unionist, to far left politician and is running as the New anti-capitalist party candidate.

His slogan is "Our lives, not their profits" and he wants to get rid of the position of president in France, introduce a minimum wage level "pre-salary" for students, bring an end to France's state of emergency and open its borders.

At the final count on March 18th, he has 573 signatures and will be running in the official campaign period from April 10th. 

by James Vasina/Rose Trigg


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