Julien Bayou

Following the powerful first-round performance of Valérie Pécresse, current right wing president of the Ile-de-France region surrounding Paris, three trailing candidates representing ecologists, Socialists and the far-left France Unbowed party have agreed an alliance which they hope will be sufficient to block the return of Pécresse.

Last Sunday, Valérie Pécresse topped the poll in Ile-de-France, with nearly 36 percent of votes cast. The newly formed left-wing alliance, agreed after a long night of negotiations on Monday between Julien Bayou of Europe Ecologie-les-Verts, Clémentine Autain of France Unbowed, and Socialist Audrey Pulvar, together collected a total of 34 percent in the first round.

As Socialist presidential pretender Benoît Hamon, one of the negotiators of the left-wing alliance, put it on Tuesday morning, "we're not the favourites, but we're certainly in with a fighting chance".

The alliance is the result of agreements between the three candidates on a sharing out of their projects.

Julien Bayou has thus held onto his campaign promise of a three billiion euro investment to support climate protection and local employment.

Clémentine Autain saved her committments to establishing more health centres, refusing opening public transport to commercial competition, and making school food free for the children of poor families.

Audrey Pulvar saw her main proposition - free public transport for all in what is the single richest region in western Europe - rejected as unrealistic by the alliance partners.

But they did agree to free transport for the under-18s, students, the unemployed and those on social security.

The three hope that their alliance will bring a new dynamic to next Sunday's second round.

"The others are back at the starting line," says one supporter. "This, at least, is something new."

The allies hope to attract all those who voted for the left in the first round, those who dislike Valérie Pécresse and so voted for the ruling majority. Crucially, they hope to encourage more people to show up at a polling station next Sunday. Huge areas of Ile-de-France, like the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers, saw abstention rates above 75 percent.

"It's no use joining a protest against global warming," said Benoît Hamon, targeting last weekend's 18 - 35-year-old non-voters, "and then refusing to vote for the future of your own region, where crucial decisions are going to be made, for example in the provision of non-polluting transport!"

Of course, Valérie Pécresse will also be hoping to attract the broad support of the same public.

One of her team, Othman Nasrou, has already criticised the new alliance as a bunch of "deflated militants, racialists, supporters of invisible minorities, conspiracy theorists".

To which Julien Bayou has replied: "With that level of attack, they must think we can win. We have them worried."

Source : https://uk.news.yahoo.com/left-wing-coalition-agrees-fight-064141386.html

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