French left pick ex justice minister in 'people's primary' vote

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French left pick ex justice minister in 'people's primary' vote
French left-wing candidate to the "people's primary" presidential contest Christiane Taubira delivers a speech at the Point Ephemere artistic center in Paris on January 30, 2022 after the announcement of the results of the "people's primary". - Christiane Taubira wins the "people's primary" presidential contest on January 30, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

A four-day 'people's primary' on Sunday picked former justice minister Christiane Taubira as the favourite to lead the French left's presidential election campaign, but doubts remained that she can win wider support as a unifying figure.


A total of 467,000 people signed up to take part in the online vote, which started on Thursday. They ranked five professional politicians and two civil society candidates on a scale from "very good" to "inadequate".

Taubira, who had entered the contest as the favourite, emerged as the only candidate with a "better than good" ranking.

Next came the Green party's Yannick Jadot, hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, Euro MP Pierre Larrouturou, followed by Socialist Anne Hidalgo who is the mayor of Paris.

The exercise, initiated by political activists including environmentalists, feminists and anti-racism groups, was to foster the emergence of a candidate capable of rallying all the other hopefuls and their voters behind them, giving the left a fighting change to unseat President Emmanuel Macron in the April election.


But the primary has been dogged by serious drawbacks.

The biggest was the upfront refusal by leading candidates Melenchon, Jadot and Hidalgo to pay any attention to its result.

"As far as I'm concerned, the popular primary is a non-starter and has been for a while," Jadot said Saturday, while Melenchon has called the initiative "obscure" and "a farce".

Taubira, however, said from the start she would accept the primary's verdict which analysts said could now prompt her to declare a formal bid for the presidency.

"We want a united left, we want a strong left and we have a great road in front of us," Taubira told activists after the result Sunday, adding she would now call on the other candidates to "create unity".

Polls currently predict that all left-wing candidates will be eliminated in the first round of presidential voting in April.

Macron, who has yet to declare his candidacy for re-election, is the favourite to win according to surveys, with the far-right's Marine Le Pen the likely runner-up.

But pollsters warn that the political landscape remains volatile, with the vote's outcome very difficult to call.


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