French elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Philippe Poutou

As candidate for the New Anticapitalist Party, Philippe Poutou does not exactly fit the mould set by other challengers at the 2022 French presidential election.

Philippe Poutou is running as a presidential candidate for the New Anticapitalist Party at the French presidential election.
Philippe Poutou is running as a presidential candidate for the New Anticapitalist Party at the French presidential election. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

1 He is not part of ‘the political elite’ 

The son of a postman and housewife, he left high school without a diploma and scraped a living with a series of precarious jobs before landing a work contract with a Ford factory in the mid-90s, where he quickly became involved in union activism’.

However this is his third presidential bid and he is currently a local politician in the southern French city of Bordeaux. 

He’s very far from wealthy though, the obligatory declaration of assets for all presidential candidates showed that his highest-value possession is his car – a Peugeot 308.

2 He wants to abolish the presidency 

Poutou wants to abolish the very position he is seeking to win – the French presidency. 

In his manifesto, Poutou also calls for the abolition of the Senate and the creation of a sixth Republic, whereby decisions are made through exercises in direct democracy, such as referenda. 

This is a significant step forward from his last election bids where he argued for moving to a purely parliamentary system. 

“We cannot finish with capitalism in the framework of institutions conceived of to preserve it,” he wrote. 

3 He has been an activist for years

As a staunch anti-capitalist, Poutou has been an activist for many years, beginning in high school. 

He shot to national prominence for his role as a trade unionist in 2007. At the time, the Ford factory in Gironde was set to close, but Poutou led negotiations to keep it open saving close to 1,000 jobs. 

He joined the yellow vest movement in 2018-19, describing it as “an expression of discontent against a profoundly unjust society.”

4 TV debates are his strong point 

In 2017, many media commentators identified Poutou as one of the strongest performers in the televised debate before the election.

He is happy to throw around phrases accusing his opponents of being “corrupt politicians disconnected from reality.” 

During the debate, he told the moderators: “It’s not because I don’t have a tie that you have to interrupt me.”

Criticising Marine Le Pen who had refused to appear before a judge citing parliamentary immunity.

“When we are summoned by the police, we don’t have workers’ immunity,” he said.   

Poutou refused to pose for a photo with the other candidates before programme started. 

5 He is currently a city councillor in Bordeaux

Poutou failed to win the French presidency in 2012 and 2017, scoring less than 2 percent of the first-round vote both times. 

After being fired from his job at a car factory in 2019, he stood in municipal elections in Bordeaux where he had greater electoral success, becoming a city councillor. 

“We have succeeded in making the social anger heard and showing that Bordeaux is not a bourgeois city,” he said upon winning his seat. 


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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.