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.
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.
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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