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French elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Nathalie Arthaud

Nathalie Arthaud is a well-read revolutionary who hopes that when it comes to polling day for the 2022 French presidential election, the electorate will rise up to crush the bourgeoisie.

Nathalie Arthaud is running on a Trotskyist platform at the 2022 French presidential election.
Nathalie Arthaud is running on a Trotskyist platform at the 2022 French presidential election. (Photo by STEFANO RELLANDINI / AFP)

She is not a full-time politician 

At 51-years-old, Arthaud is a full-time teacher at a high school in Seine-Saint-Denis. In her free time, she serves as the national spokesperson for far-left political party Lutte ouvrière.

She was its presidential candidate in 2012 and 2017 and is stepping up again this time around. 

She thinks the communist party is not radical enough

Arthaud said she jointed Lutte ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle) because the communist party had “become Stalinist and a party of government that has adapted to the capitalist system”. 

The French Communist Party currently holds a smattering of seats in the French parliament, while around 60 communes are run by Communist mayors. Lutte ouvrière holds no parliamentary seats. 

She is a revolutionary steeped in academia 

She has even written a book, called Communiste, révolutionnaire, internationaliste !

In case it wasn’t already clear, Arthaud really believes in revolution. 

Her website makes heavy reading and is organised thematically into grand ideas (imperialism, protectionism, left and right in the service of capitalists and freedom of movement) rather than concrete policies.

She identifies as a Trotskyist. 

Her electoral record leaves room for improvement 

Arthaud’s previous performance in presidential elections has been poor, which is forgivable given that she is trying to sell a particularly radical message and has to give up a good chunk of time to teaching her students. 

In the previous two elections that she competed in, she won less than 1 percent of the vote both times around – but least she was able to gather the necessary parrainages (she also managed this for the 2022 contest). 

READ MORE What is ‘parrainage’ and how does it affect candidates

The only time she has ever been elected was as a municipal councillor in Lyon in 2008 – a post she held until 2014. 

She is fervently anti-Macron 

Arthaud is no fan of Emmanuel Macron and took part in the marée populaire (popular wave) protests against his newly-won presidency in 2017. She also voiced her support for the Yellow Vests movement. 

In a February interview with BFMTV, she described Macron’s record as president as “devastating”. 

“You have seen the health catastrophe, the state of hospitals, soaring inequality, precariousness that continues… at the other end what do we see? We see billionaires that have doubled their wealth,” she said. 

“The big bosses can congratulate themselves, they are happy, that is obvious. But when you go to the working class, we can only be very angry.”

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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