Former Minister Taubira considers his candidacy for the French elections as the left’s “candidate for unity” | France


Christiane Taubira, former justice minister and leading figure on the French left, has said she plans to run for president in the spring and will announce a final decision next month.

In one video posted on social networks she promised “to use all my strength” to unite the divided left. Taubira’s supporters have been calling for her for months to present herself as the first black woman president of France to counter the rise of the far right.

Taubira introduced same-sex marriage in 2013, in the face of street protests and heated debates in Parliament, when she was Minister of Justice in the socialist government of François Hollande. She is also known to be the driving force behind the 2001 law recognizing the slave trade as a crime against humanity.

Taubira, first elected to the National Assembly as an independent deputy in 1993, has been described by political science professor Rémi Lefebvre as “the moral conscience of the left”. A recent survey by L’Obs magazine found out that she was the preferred candidate of left-wing voters – before it was even clear she could run. The same Obs poll found that 86% of left supporters would like a single candidate to run for a united left.

Currently, the French left is divided into many different candidates and shown in current opinion polls as unable to reach the second round next April, which is expected to pit Emmanuel Macron against a right-wing or far-right candidate.

In her video, Taubira said: “I will not be just one more candidate,” suggesting that she would participate by mid-January in efforts to bring together rival left-wing candidates before announcing a definitive strategy . She said she could see the current “deadlock” on the left and had always vowed to take responsibility, which meant she was considering launching her own presidential bid. She said that what mattered was the daily life of the voters and ensuring that the French could live together. She said people face daily hardships and uncertainty about their future and that there is “fragmentation at work in French society”. She said it was important to “strengthen social cohesion without excluding anyone” and to act on the climate.

The French left has never presented so many different presidential candidates at this stage of the race. Among them, the socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo; Yannick Jadot from the Greens; Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise, which has a program more to the left than the Socialist Party; and Fabien Roussel of the Communist Party. All have so far refused Hidalgo’s call to unite and submit to a citizens’ primary vote in January to choose the best-placed single candidate. Aside from Hidalgo, all of the contestants insist they will always run separate campaigns, despite opinion polls currently placing each of them at no more than 10% and unable to reach the final.

The difficulties of the left have been exacerbated by the rise in support for the far right. Left-wing candidates combined currently only represent a total of 24-29% in April’s first round. Meanwhile, the far right is becoming the most powerful force in the country and has taken working class voters to the left. Polls show the far right currently has at least 30% support, with two main candidates. The historic far-right figure Marine Le Pen is presenting himself for the third time, but she is competing with the great specialist in far-right television Éric Zemmour, convicted of inciting racial hatred and who has launched a foreign candidacy for the presidential election. , warning that immigration and Islam will destroy France.

Taubira, originally from Cayenne in French Guiana, has been hailed on the left for her charisma, speech in parliament and pithy televised debates. Her supporters in Paris over the weekend said they felt she would be a good opponent against television polemicist Zemmour, whom socialist Hidalgo compared to a “hate merchant”.

Taubira first ran for president 20 years ago, in 2002, where she won just over 2% of the vote in the first round. This election was a historic moment in French politics when the far right Jean-Marie Le Pen qualified for the second round against the right Jacques Chirac.

An OpinionWay poll earlier this week – when it was unclear whether Taubira would run or if others on the left might give way to her – put her at 2% in the first round next April.

Last month Taubira told a French television show: “I refuse to accept that the presidential election is lost for the left”. She considered that the left was the only way to “restore social justice” in France, to build a form of “living together” and to face the climate emergency.

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