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a utopian citizen project to bring together the left and environmentalists

A citizens’ movement has set up a primary supposed to bring together the left and environmentalists behind a single candidate for the French presidential election in 2022. Many see it as a project doomed to failure. Its initiators want to believe in a democratic innovation making it possible to offer an alternative to the Macron-Le Pen duel.

Tired of the eternal divisions on the left and of the duel announced between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in the second round of the 2022 presidential election, committed citizens have decided to shake up the political game with a “popular primary”.

The “Rencontre des justices” collective, which brings together activists from environmental, feminist, anti-racist, social and even yellow vests, struggles, is at the initiative of this primary. Among its founders, we find committed personalities such as Mathilde Imer, one of the initiators of the Citizen’s Climate Convention, or Samuel Grzybowski, known in particular for having created the association Coexister, which works for interconvictional dialogue.


These citizens received the support, Friday, July 30, in L’Obs, from 178 elected left and environmentalists, including the deputies Paula Forteza, Aurélien Taché and Guillaume Chiche. They are also supported by various personalities, including the former Greens presidential candidate Noël Mamère, the economist Julia Cagé, the sociologist Dominique Méda, the climatologist Jean Jouzel, the director Cyril Dion and the actress Juliette Binoche.

“We have the will to go beyond the parties to bring out a candidacy for a rally that can bring together all the players in the major mobilizations of the five-year Macron”, explains Samuel Grzybowski, contacted by France 24.

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The organizers of the popular primary believe that these citizens mobilized in recent years are likely to form what they call a “justice bloc” against the “identity” and “neoliberal” blocs represented by Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. “This ‘block of justice’ transcends the left-right divide and proposes a radically fair and egalitarian society, between humans, and vis-à-vis the living that surrounds it and of which it is a part,” they say on the popular primary website.

Taubira, Ruffin, Giraud: candidates despite themselves

“We were inspired by the major demands of civil society to draft a common base of ten disruptive measures”, continues Samuel Grzybowski. These are clearly marked on the left: climate law incorporating all the proposals of the Citizens’ Convention, solidarity income from the age of 18, reduction of salary gaps, egalitarian and compulsory parental leave, restoration and modernization of the social security tax. fortune, fight against fraud and tax evasion, reduction of working hours …

In total, thirteen political parties – from La France insoumise to CAP21 via Génération.s, the Socialist Party or Europe Écologie-Les Verts – took part in meetings to develop this programmatic base, without however adhering to the principle of the primary.

Citizens are now called upon to propose candidates. “This is something new since each citizen, by registering for free on our platform, can propose the person of his choice, whether he is a member of a political party or not,” underlines Samuel Grzybowski.

For the moment, this gives a rather surprising list of names since most of the candidates are in spite of themselves. The former Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira (leading with 13,063 sponsorships), LFI deputy François Ruffin (8,963 sponsorships) and economist Gaël Giraud (5,215 sponsorships) were thus sponsored.

Then, at the end of this stage, which is to last until October 11, the five women and five men who have received the most sponsorships will become the official candidates for this popular primary… on condition that they accept it.

Because this is where the main challenge for the organizers lies: to convince the representatives of the ecological and left-wing political parties to submit to a primary – which will take place at the end of November – and to accept the result even though the idea of ‘a common candidacy causes urticaria in them.

“It’s not realistic”

“We appeal to their responsibilities. If they want to be at the rendezvous of history, it will be necessary to change strategy and put aside their interests as a chapel. Whoever wins our primary will have a real chance to win the ecology and the social in 2022. Divided, it is the assured defeat “, notes Samuel Grzybowski.

Beyond the call to responsibility, supporters of the primary rely mainly on popular pressure. They hope to bring together at least 300,000 people on their platform before the beginning of October. A threshold that would allow them according to them to claim a popular dynamic in the face of the 237,000 supporters displayed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon on his own platform and the several thousand voters registered for the ecological primary in September.

But if Samuel Grzybowski wants to be resolutely optimistic, the reality today is more cruel. No party has formally committed to participate in the popular primary and several candidates have already brushed aside the possibility of participation.

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Thus, Anne Hidalgo, putative candidate of the Socialist Party, declared in Le Journal du dimanche, on May 2, that she was “not in favor of a primary”, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been claiming since autumn 2020 that ‘he will be a candidate until the end.

“From the start, we said that we wanted to contribute to the programmatic debates, but that in no way would we participate in the primary”, insists the LFI deputy Éric Coquerel, contacted by France 24. “Make a primary between candidates who have such different programs, it is not realistic, he adds. And even admitting that there is a nominated candidate at the end of this primary, it will be like during the socialist primary of 2017 with losers who will refuse to support the winner. “

“It is clear that today, we are facing a wall, admits Samuel Grzybowski. But I hope that all these politicians will hear the cry of a generation and that they will eventually understand that there is no has only one way to win in 2022. “

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