Europe: Five French politicians to watch

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José Bové (Greens) is a colorful figure of French & European politics. He is known for his alterglobalist opinions and his fight agains GMOs, and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009, as one of the representatives of the South-West electoral region. During his previous mandate at the European Parliament (EP), Bové took part in several debates on topics such as agriculture and international trade. He is in the run for the presidency of the EU Commission (EC). While we doubt he will be a serious contender for the Commission, he remains one of the most active French eurodeputies for the 2009-2014 term.

Michel Barnier (UMP) is the current Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services know for his contribution to the EU banking reform. He is arguably the French front-runner for the presidency of the European Commission, but is still waiting for the support of President Hollande. Tough choice for the French President, which will have to decide whether he wants to support a member of the opposition for the prestigious post of EC President. For the French speakers among you, here is an article explaining Hollande’s dilemma in more details.

Marine Le Pen (FN) – Does she even need an introduction. The controversial leader of the Front National (currently on top of French polls for EU elections with 21%) has made the headlines throughout 2013 with her calls for the downfall of the Europan Union, and her consequent alliance with Dutch politician Geert Wilders. We’ll be cautiously watching the steps of her party before, during and after the May elections. No matter your take on her politics, you have to recognize the fact that she might be able to federate enough Eurodeputies to create a true anti-European faction within the European Parliament.

Françoise Castex (PS) will NOT be representing France in the EP after May 2014. Then why is she on this watch list? Because of her eviction from the EU elections list, which has at least started a little debate on the way French parties decide on the composition of their European electoral lists. It’s not about experience, it’s about internal politics. Which may or may not account for the relatively small influence of France on EU affairs…

Rachida Dati (UMP) – Sorry to include one more UMP member, but this one is worth it given the surprise of the author when she saw Mrs. Dati on top of the EU electoral list of the UMP in Île-de-France. Known for her lack of interest in European Affairs, the French politician turned to the European Parliament after a rather rough exit of French domestic politics, and was caught on tape in 2009 complaining about having to attend the Parliament’s meetings because the press was there (the full recording in French). She “could not stand it any more.” Nevertheless, Dati apparently wants back in for one more term!

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