Philippe Poutou is the official candidate of the New Anticapitalist Party (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste or NPA). It is the second time the trade unionist and car factory worker has been selected as the candidate for the NPA. Five years ago, suffering from the competition with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he received 1.5% of the popular vote in the presidential election.
Poutou was almost unanimously elected as the NPA’s candidate in the party’s March 2016 primary elections – perhaps somewhat surprisingly given his recent history of fallout with the NPA executive. In 2014 he left the NPA board, condemning a “too parisian” executive body and denouncing organisational issues. But in March 2016, he was selected to represent the party. “In a difficult situation, the easiest thing to do is for me to go back”, explained the candidate to Le Monde.
Poutou succeeded Olivier Besancenot, twice candidate (2002 and 2007) of the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire), the NPA’s predecessor. In 2009 the party was at the height of its popularity, with more than 9,000 activists. And as Besancenot recorded a record of vote for the party, hitting more than 4% of the popular vote in 2007, taking over the role of the party’s candidate was a difficult task.
“Our concern is not the election, our concern is what is going to happen in the streets”
Poutou hails from the most modest background of the eleven presidential candidates: he does not hold a degree and did one manual job after another before gaining employment with Ford. As a worker for Ford, he fixes machine tools and is head of the General Confederation of Work (CGT) for the factory in Gironde. He made a name for himself in this union role, fighting to protect jobs in the factory. He is credited with saving 955 jobs. Poutou’s tenacity and success in fighting for workers’ rights played an important part in convincing his party to elect him as their candidate.
“Our lives, not their profits”, NPA slogan
Philippe Poutou’s aim is not to win. “Our concern is not the election, our concern is what is going to happen on the streets,” said the NPA candidate speaking on mainstream radio station Europe 1. He wants to defend his far-left ideas and programme in a public forum. The NPA’s policies focus primarily on the economy and wealth allocation. As the slogan “Our lives, not their profits” (“Nos vies, pas leur profits”) implies, a major aim for Poutou is to fight tax avoidance by large corporations and wealthy individuals.
Other notable policies include the introduction of a 32 hour-work week and the banning of all advertising financing. Most unusual of all, if elected president he would abolish the presidential position itself, to “fight against capitalism and the actual anti-democratic system.”
April 4th: when his intervention became viral
On the 4th of April for the first debate between the 11 candidates, Philippe Poutou was the one to create THE moment everybody will remember by directly pointing François Fillon and Marine Le Pen on their judiciary affairs. He said :
“Since January it’s a complete festival. Fillon, the more we dig, the more we smell corruption. This lad is here and explains we need to be rigorous and make sacrifices while he doesn’t care taking in the public funds. We also have Marine Le Pen, same thing, she takes in public funds without any problems because it’s not here it’s with the EU. And when you see the FN (National Front) that pretends to be anti-system but protects itself with the parliamentary immunity. Cushy no?”