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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

French 2022 elections: How are the candidates doing so far?

Monday marks the start of the official presidential election campaign period in France (although of course in reality most candidates have been campaigning for months) ahead of the first round of voting on April 10th.

French 2022 elections: How are the candidates doing so far?
Election posts put up in the French town of Saint-Herblain, near Nantes. Photo by Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

A total of 12 candidates managed to muster the 500 endorsements from elected French officials needed to enter the race. The top two in the first round will face off in a second-round run-off on April 24th.

AFP looks at all of them, from the frontrunner, President Emmanuel Macron, to an eccentric former shepherd from the Pyrenees mountains.

Far right

Marine Le Pen – The veteran far-right leader is making her third attempt for the presidency after reaching the second round in 2017, with her political future widely seen as on the line in this year’s polls.

Rather than holding flashy rallies, the 53-year-old has opted for low-key grassroots campaigning while seeking to cast herself as more mainstream, moderate and competent than her far-right rivals – and even her former self.

Eric Zemmour – The ex-journalist, TV pundit and best-selling author has a major national following thanks to his anti-Islam and anti-immigration views, which has enabled him to draw away supporters from Le Pen and the mainstream right.

As a political newcomer, the 63-year-old enjoyed a surge in the polls last October, but gaffes and his uncompromising style have seen him slip significantly behind Le Pen, according to surveys.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan – The eurosceptic head of the “Rise Up France” party is a pugnacious mayor of a Paris suburb who bubbles up in French public life every five years at presidential election time.

He has promised to crack down on migration and give “a kick in the butt to the lazy, slackers and free riders”, but has been largely drowned out by Le Pen and Zemmour.

Right

Valérie Pécresse – The head of the Greater Paris region surprised many by winning the primary for the conservative Republicans party, becoming its first female candidate in a presidential election.


Centre
The former budget minister has accused Macron of overspending and being soft on crime, but her campaign has struggled to gain traction and a disastrous first major rally in February dented her credibility.

Emmanuel Macron – In power since 2017 when he won the presidency in his first ever election, the 44-year-old pro-European was already the favourite at the turn of the year but the war in Ukraine has raised his chances further.

Seen as having drifted rightwards during his term, he is promising more tax cuts, benefits reform and a raise in the retirement age if he becomes the first French president to be re-elected in 20 years.

Left

Anne Hidalgo – The mayor of Paris took on the task of trying to revive the fortunes of the floundering Socialist Party after it was trounced in the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The 62-year-old has rarely convinced and appeared to be looking for a way out at the end of last year, with polls suggesting she is on course to score under 5 percent.

Yannick Jadot – The former Greenpeace campaigner is hoping to transform the dazzling success the Greens enjoyed in local elections two years ago, saying the French are ready to embrace an environmental revolution.

He is pushing what he calls pragmatic policies to combat climate change instead of the more radical solutions sought by some in his party, but polls show him struggling to make double-digits.

Far left

Jean-Luc Mélenchon – A political veteran famous for his tirades against globalisation and the “elites,” the former Trotskyist is polling the strongest among the left-wing candidates.

A forceful speaker and debater, he is gaining momentum in the run-up to the election and his chances of making it into the second round run-off are being taken seriously.

Fabien Roussel – The charismatic leader of France’s Communist Party has seen his single-digit poll numbers mount in recent weeks, though his party remains a shadow of its former self in the post-war glory days.

Roussel has promised to increase taxes on companies and the highest earners as well as nationalise big banks and energy giants.

Philippe Poutou – An self-styled voice of the workers and scourge of professional politicians, the former Ford factory worker insulted fellow candidates during a TV debate in 2017 and refused to take part in a joint photo.

He is standing for the New Anti-Capitalist Party with a campaign promising to disarm the police and rebuild France’s public administration.

Nathalie Arthaud – A low-key and bookish former teacher who is standing for the Workers’ Struggle party in her third tilt at the presidency.

The Trotskyist is promising a huge hike in the minimum wage, a ban on job cuts and retirement at 60, but like all the other fringe candidates has made little impact on the campaign so far.

Ruralist

Jean Lassalle – The eccentric MP from the southwest Pyrennees mountain region is a former shepherd known for his strong regional accent and passionate defence of rural communities.

Viewed affectionately by many French people, he stands almost no chance in the presidential vote but will probably retain his seat in parliament if he stands in elections in June.

Follow all our latest coverage of the French 2022 presidential elections HERE.

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POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

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