Greens reject bid for France’s fractured left to unite ahead of presidential election

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The Green party’s candidate for the French presidential election has ruled out taking part in a primary contest to designate a single left-wing candidate.

“No, I will not take part in a left-wing primary,” Yannick Jadot, the ecologist presidential candidate, said on Thursday in response to a call issued the day before by Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo.

Jadot, a member of the European parliament, was nominated as the Greens’ candidate in September following a primary contest within the party.

He told Europe 1 radio on Thursday morning that Hidalgo’s call for a broader primary is a ploy by her “to break through the deadlock with a surprising idea”.

The French left is highly fragmented with seven formations fielding candidates in the April 2022 presidential ballot including Hidalgo, Jadot, far-left populist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Communist party, the New Anticapitalist Party, Lutte Ouvrière and independent Arnaud Montebourg.

This is splitting the vote with left-wing candidates trailing in the polls. An IFOP poll released earlier this week put Hidalgo and Jadot neck-and-neck with 5% and 6% of votes respectively, behind Melenchon of La France Insoumise with 9%.

The three right-wing candidates all poll better with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the recently-selected Valérie Pécresse of the mainstream right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party both seen securing 17% of the vote. Eric Zemmour, a firebrand far-right television personality, is forecast to gather 13% of ballots.

President Emmanuel Macron, who has yet to officialise his candidacy, is in the lead with 25%.

Jadot highlighted that he withdrew his candidacy in 2017 to rally behind the Socialist party’s candidate, Benoit Hamon, only for him to secure just 6.4% of the vote — a record low for the party.

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A new primary, carried by the citizen movement “Popular Primary”, “is not the choice of the ecologists, which is to gather very widely around strong ideas” anchored by “ecology”, he said.

But he is “not at all” against the idea of rallying.

“I am addressing Socialist voters, progressives and humanists: the dynamic that can win this presidential election, which takes up progressive ideas by adding the essential issues of ecology, is the programme that we carry,” he said.

Hidalgo’s proposal was also shot down by the Communists who denounced it as a “proposal of the last chance”.

Her spokesman, Stéphane Troussel denounced their choice as “not responsible” and said Jadot “wants to continue to despair left-wing voters and environmentalists a little more.”

“What made our victories in the local elections? It’s the rallying”, he added.

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