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French election: Trotskyist candidate passes 500 signatures threshold

Candidates must get backing from enough elected officials by March 4 to officially stand. Far-right prospects Le Pen and Zemmour are still a couple of hundred names short

Nathalie Arthaud of the socialist party Lutte Ouvrière will contest her third presidential election this year Pic: GERARD BOTTINO / Shutterstock

Presidential election hopeful Nathalie Arthaud of the far-left party Lutte Ouvrière (workers’ struggle) has now gathered over 500 signatures of elected officials, meaning that she is an official candidate for the elections in April.

Her key policies include raising the minimum wage (smic) in France to €2,000 net a month, setting the retirement age at 60 with a minimum monthly pension of €2,000, prohibiting layoffs and job cuts and reducing the number of working hours in a week. 

Nathalie Arthaud’s plans to fund this huge rise [current net smic is €1,269 as of January 2022] by increasing the taxes paid by the 40 largest companies in France, the CAC40. Essentially, she says, “by living off the profits of capitalism”

Ms Arthaud joins Emmanuel Macron, Valérie Pécresse and Anne Hidalgo in surpassing the 500-name threshold.

These signatures are called parrainages in French, and those wishing to stand in the election must get [at least] 500 of them. 

They can be given to people who have not declared themselves as candidates, such as is the case for Mr Macron, who is yet to officially enter himself in the running. 

Read more: Which French election candidate does your mayor support? How to check

The period where elected officials can give their signatures is open this year between January 27 and March 4. 

As of February 15 this year, 8,076 officials have given their signature to a candidate. Over 42,000 have the possibility to do so. There is no obligation for an official to give their signature, but if they do the choice is made public. 

Who is Nathalie Arthaud?

She is the fourth to reach the 500 mark, but the latest poll from Ifop shows only 0.5% of voters intend to back her in the first round of the elections. 

Mr Macron remains the favourite, followed by Ms Le Pen, Mr Zemmour and Ms Pécresse. 

This is the third election that Ms Arthaud, a secondary school economics teacher, is standing in. 

She received 0.56% of votes in 2012 and 0.64% in 2017. 

Her party, Lutte Ouvrière, is a far-left party with a Trotskyist ideology. 

They are against capitalist systems, the exploitation of workers and low wages. 

They also want a “replacement of the Europe of capitalists and bankers” by a “Europe of peoples and workers”.

It is not uncommon for communist-linked parties in France to stand as candidates in the election, although they are not usually widely supported by the general public. 

Nathalie Arthaud spoke to The Connexion in 2017 about her party and policies, which you can read here: A new revolution is coming, say Trotskyists.

The race for 500 names

Ms Arthaud is the fourth to surpass the 500 mark, but several other candidates are close, such as Fabien Roubien Roussel of the Parti communiste français, Jean Lassalle of centrist party Mouvement démocrate, and Yannick Jadot of the Greens (Europe Écologie Les Verts).  

Far-right candidates Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National) and Éric Zemmour (Reconquête), who are both among the favourites to enter a second round of voting at the election, are still a couple of hundred signatures short. 

Reconquête’s vice president, Guillaume Peltier, claimed earlier this week in an interview with France 2 that Mr Zemmour has already assured the backing of 500 elected officials. 

Ms Le Pen received 627 signatures ahead of the 2017 elections, and is expected to also surpass the 500 mark this year. 

Christiane Taubira, who won an unofficial left-wing candidates primary in January, has just 73 signatures. 

Read more: Christiane Taubira wins the French left’s citizen vote: what now?

In 2017, 11 candidates successfully gathered 500 signatures. This was out of a total of 61 names.

While officials only have between around five weeks to officially submit their signature for a candidate, it is often the case that candidates organise their support well in advance of this period. 

The candidate who receives the most backing among elected officials is not necessarily the favourite among the electorate. 

The table below shows the Conseil constitutionnel’s official count of parrainages as of February 16, 2022, with just the top 11 candidates displayed.  

Pic: Conseil constitutionnel - Élection présidentielle 2022

To see more about the presidential race and the parrainages, visit the Conseil constitutionnel’s dedicated website here

Read more: Signatures, power transfer: key dates for French presidential election

Explaining the parrainages

The first round of France’s presidential election will take place on April 10 but in order for a candidate to stand, they must receive 500 parrainages. 

These signatures must come from officials in at least 30 different departments, with no more than a tenth of them from one single department. 

Elected representatives who can give a signature include MPs, senators, representatives of the European Parliament, mayors and presidents of local authorities, councillors of Paris and the Metropolis of Lyon, as well as departmental and regional councillors. In practice, most signatures come from mayors.

There are around 42,000 people eligible to give a candidate their signature. Each can only back one candidate. In 2017, only 14,296 signatures were given. 

The system of parrainages began in 1962 under President Charles de Gaulle, with the intention of limiting the number of fringe candidates. At the time, candidates only required 100 backers. This was increased to 500 in 1976 to further limit the number of candidates. 

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