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French Elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

The 61-year-old Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is running as a presidential candidate for the third time, pitching himself as the man who can restore sovereignty to France.

Right-wing French presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan delivers a speech.
Right-wing French presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan delivers a speech. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

1. He is an isolationist 

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, sometimes referred to by the acronym NDA, is the president of the Debout la France (France Arise) party, which is seeking to remove the country from the “tentacles of the EU and NATO”. 

While he has voiced his opposition to “Frexit”, the 61-year-old has described Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties, which enshrined greater EU integration, as “scandalous treason.”

He would like to radically restructure the EU to give member states greater autonomy. Dupont-Aignan has previously voiced his support for withdrawing from NATO. 

Dupont-Aignan received a public endorsement from Nigel Farage, a eurosceptic politician from the UK, during the 2014 EU parliament elections. 

2. He doesn’t want to invade Belgium

Dupont-Aignan wants to raise defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP and recruit a further 40,000 soldiers to bring the total number of servicemen up to 250,000 by 2027. 

He has sat on various defence and foreign affairs committees as an MP. 

During the 2010-11 political crisis in Belgium, he voiced his support for an idea known as Rattachisme – which advocates French-speaking parts of Belgium seceding to become part of France.

“I am not seeking to invade Belgium,” he later clarified to the JDD

Dupont-Aignan’s enthusiastic militarism was reflected in a political thriller called Le Séisme. Marine Le Pen présidente by Michel Wieviorka. The story takes place following an imagined 2017 presidential election victory for Marine Le Pen, who appoints Dupont-Aignan as minister of defence. 

3. He performs well in local elections

Although he has yet to win more than 5 percent of the vote in a presidential election, Dupont-Aignan has a strong electoral record as a local politician. 

Dupont-Aignan is a superstar in the commune of Yerres to the southeast of Paris, where he served as mayor between 1995-2017, winning three elections with more than 75 percent in the first round. During the 2017 presidential election, he was the top polling candidate in the commune. 

His campaign website claims he was “the best elected mayor in France”. 

Dupont-Aignan proved himself an effective local administrator cutting the commune’s debt by close to half over a 20-year period and winning support for his environmental and crime-fighting policies. 

From 1997-2017, he won successive parliamentary races as an MP for the Essone département, frequently winning an absolute majority in the first round. Prior to his election, the seat had only ever been held by candidates from the Socialist party. 

4. He loves animals 

Dupont-Aignan has been decorated by the French animal rights organisation, la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, for his policies in favour of animal protection. 

As Mayor of Yerres, he launched a number of initiatives including the construction of a refuge for stray cats, the development of natural spaces for Scottish cows and the subsidisation of a dog shelter. He also created a new post for an official charged with defending animal rights. 

“Long considered as simple objects, animals are still too often victims of intolerable treatment,” reads his campaign website. As an MP, he has pushed for bans on slaughter without stunning, for better regulation of abattoirs, a ban on horse meat and a ban on animal shows at circuses. 

5. He is Covid-sceptic 

Dupont-Aignan has been a fervent critic of the government’s Covid policy, voicing his opposition to the vaccine pass. 

“What is crazy is that in a democracy like France, you can vote in the middle of the night for a law that will not resolve anything as far as health is concerned,” he said.

In February, he told RTL that vaccinating young people was “totally useless”. 

“We have a government under the grip of money and conflicts of interests… We are in a country where the pharmaceutical lobby has influenced a government.”

Dupont-Aignan has already had Covid but has refused to say whether or not he has been vaccinated. 

A number of his campaign staff resigned in December after revelations that he had continued to hold meetings despite having Covid. 

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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