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Will gilets jaunes be standing in EU elections?

With three days to go before the final candidates’ lists for the European elections must be lodged with the Interior Ministry there is still uncertainty over whether there will be a list, or lists, for the gilets jaunes (GJ).

Several groups of GJ claim to have gathered the 79 candidates needed to form a list, though it is possible some of them will merge. There are also question marks over how they will fund their campaign(s).

However no list would have the support of the whole movement since the first list to be formed, known as Rassemblement d’Initiative Citoyenne (RIC) in honour of one of the GJs’ key demands (the power for the public to trigger referendums), has been disowned by two of its leaders, Eric Drouet and Maxime Nicolle.

Meanwhile an ‘Assembly of Assemblies’ meeting of GJ in Saint-Nazaire condemned the whole idea of GJs forming political lists.

Some of the lists have stated they are prepared to consider a merger with another list, including the RIC list, which is now headed by small business owner Frédéric Mestdjian after Ingrid Levavasseur, a nurse’s aide who was one of the early founders of the movement, stepped down.

“There’s no advantage to not merging lists, it will just divide the vote. What’s mostly causing a blockage is people’s egos,” Mr Mestdjian told France Info.

The lists are said to be very diverse in their make-up, and representative of those who have supported the movement.

One list head, Chrisophe Chalençon of the Evolution Citoyenne list, said they are “the same kind of person who were on the roundabouts – artisans, shopkeepers… and we may well have more women than men”.

One big issue for the groups is finding the funding for their campaigns. Only lists that obtain at least 3% of the vote can have part of their expenses refunded.

A recent Ifop-Fiducial survey found if there was a single GJ list it would obtain only 2% of the vote at the European Parliament elections, which will be held on May 26 in France.

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