Darling of the French left opens door to presidential run

PARIS — Christiane Taubira, one of the most popular figures of the French left, announced on Friday she is considering standing for the upcoming 2022 presidential election, in a move that could shake up the race on the left, as no candidate has yet emerged as its champion against incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

In a video released on social media, Taubira hinted that she would take part in a primary of left-wing candidates, or wait for others to join her.

“I will not be yet another candidate; I will put all my forces into the last chances for unity,” she said. “I’m considering running for the presidential election.

“I’ve made a tally of what counts, you!” she said in the video. “Your questions and your expectations … what counts is the fragility of the daily lives of millions, the uncertainties about the future and … the dithering of the European Union in the face of emergencies,” she said.

Taubira, who is Black, was justice minister under former Socialist President François Hollande from 2012 to 2016. She became a popular figure among progressives in part thanks to her lyrical defense of same-sex marriage while facing violent racist attacks during her tenure.

A recent poll by Ipsos showed that Taubira was the most popular politician among left-wing voters, ahead of both Yannick Jadot, the Green candidate, and Anne Hidalgo, the candidate for the Socialist Party.

However, the French left is deeply divided, with no fewer than seven candidates already running, and divisions over whether to hold a primary to increase the chances of the left-wing candidate ahead of the presidential election in April. In her video, Taubira took a hit at the candidates currently running on the left and said they had reached a “deadlock.”

But many within the Green party, Europe-Ecologie Les Verts, and the Socialist Party doubt that Taubira, whose previous presidential bid in 2002 attracted only 2.32 percent of the vote, would be able to lead a victorious campaign with only four months to go before the vote.

Taubira’s possible bid puts her on a collision course with Hidalgo, the candidate backed by the Socialist Party, who has been struggling to gain traction over recent months.

According to POLITICO’s poll of polls, Hidalgo would get only 4 percent of the vote, which puts her under a key threshold for the refunding of a big chunk of her campaign expenses. Earlier this month, Hidalgo raised speculation that she was about to pull out of the race when she suddenly called for a left-wing primary. Shortly after Taubira’s video was published, Hidalgo called for a TV debate between all left-wing candidates.

Meanwhile, a group of left-wing civil society activists has mounted a campaign to encourage candidates to hold a primary. Taubira has been repeatedly in touch with this movement and would likely take part in it.

During an unrelated press conference Friday morning, Jadot, the candidate for the Greens, said “it’s the turn of ecology” and that he did “not want to dive into another primary” after the Greens held their own contest in September.

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