January 24, 2019
A gilets-jaunes list for the European elections?
How to transform public anger into a political project? There has been a second attempt by the gilets jaunes to build momentum for the European elections. Ingrid Levavasseur, a very visible representative of the movement, is leading a list with ten members already and aiming to reach 79 candidates by mid-February through an application process that is open to all French citizens.
The first time some of the gilets jaunes attempted to politicise the movement was in November, around a controversial singer, but that attempt seems to have died off. Will this initiative of the popular Levavasseur succeed? Will her popularity and the open selection process be enough to get the endorsement of other gilets jaunes? Not clear. Her influential but controversial colleague Maxime Nicolle alias Fly Rider warns already that she is about to betray the faith of hundreds and thousands of gilets jaunes in her, writes Le Monde.
What if Levavasseur's list were to come together and run in the European elections? Pollsters expect a gilets jaunes list to mobilise voters who normally would abstain, and it also might pick up voters from the the far-right and far-left contingents. The Elabe poll's prediction that a gilets jaunes list would come third with 13% of the votes would, however, require that they are recognised as legitimate representatives for the gilets jaunes movement, which might or might not be the case for Levavasseur's list.
The other trend to watch out for is the convergence of the gilets jaunes with trade unions. The CGT has called for a general strike on February 5, in support of more redistribution of wealth. This call seems to have tempted some gilets jaunes to join in, originally against any association with trade unions. The alliance is the subject of a controversial debate on the social media platforms of the gilets jaunes. One advantage of such an alliance would be that it brings judicial protection to the gilets jaunes protesters, which is only granted if there is a national strike called by a trade union according to Journal du Dimanche.