French elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Fabien Roussel

A lifelong communist who enjoys good French cheese and spent time reporting in Vietnam, here's what you need to know about Fabien Roussel.

French Communist Party National Secretary, Fabien Roussel, is running in the presidential race for the first time in 2022.
French Communist Party National Secretary, Fabien Roussel, is running in the presidential race for the first time in 2022. (Photo by Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP)

He is a red-blooded Frenchman 

Fabien Roussel, a 52-year-old MP, made headlines on the presidential campaign trail with repeated promises to “defend steak for the French people”. 

“Good wine, good meat, good cheese – for me, that is French gastronomy,” he said during a television interview in January. 

He has also denounced the growing anti-hunting sentiment in France and, like other French Communist leaders before him, is a defender of nuclear energy. 

All of these positions have alienated ecologists in France. 

He grew up in a Communist milieu 

Roussel’s parents were both Communist activists. His father worked as a journalist for the Communist newspaper L’Humanité. 

Roussel’s first name, Fabien, was chosen as a reference to Colonel Fabien – the code name of a famous French resistance fighter from WWII. 

As a youngster, Roussel was taken along to political marches to distribute Communist leaflets. 

READ MORE Why France’s Communist party is hoping for a return to glory

He joined the Mouvement des jeunes communistes de France (MJCF) at the age of 16 and was active in anti-apartheid protests – a moment which Roussel has said inspired his political career. 

His first real step into establishment politics came in 1997, when at the age of 28, he became an adviser to Michelle Demessine, a tourism minister under the government of socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

He wants to shorten the working week and raise the minimum wage

Roussel wants to reduce the French working week to 32 hours – the current official working week is 35 hours

On top of that, he is seeking to raise the minimum wage to €1,900 pre-tax – or €1,500 post-tax. 

READ MORE How well is the French economy really doing?

He also wants to lower the retirement age to 60, pay students a monthly stipend of €850 and fully nationalise the EDF and Engie energy providers. 

This would be partly financed by reintroducing and tripling the wealth tax (ISF) scrapped by the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron. 

He is not afraid to use fruity language

During his time as an adviser to Demessine, he helped design a campaign slogan that created quite a buzz. 

Je vote communiste et je t’emmerde – “I vote communist and I piss you off”, read the posters. 

He is a former journalist

Before working full-time as a politician, Roussel worked as a journalist. 

He reported alongside his father for two years in Vietnam in the late 1990s and then took a job as a photojournalist working on a programme called Au bout de la rue on France 3 Lorraine-Champagne-Ardenne. 


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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.