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Who is Marine Tondelier? Meet the Green leader who inspired France to vote against the far-right

President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks at Republique plaza during a protest against the far-right National Rally.
President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks at Republique plaza during a protest against the far-right National Rally. Copyright AP Photo/Louise Delmotte
Copyright AP Photo/Louise Delmotte
By Rosie Frost
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Green Party leader Marine Tondelier has been one of the stand-out voices in the leftwing election campaign.

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France’s left/green alliance the New Popular Front (NFP) emerged as the dominant force in Sunday’s election, thwarting Marine Le Pen’s push to put the far right in power.

It came as a shock after weeks of opinion polls had predicted National Rally (RN) a comfortable victory. With the left winning 182 seats, Macron’s centrist alliance 168 and Le Pen’s RN 143, no single group has secured a working majority, Interior Ministry data cited by Le Monde newspaper showed.

Green Party leader Marine Tondelier has been one of the stand-out voices in the left-wing election campaign. The party is one of the three largest in the alliance and Tondelier has been tipped for the position of Prime Minister.

Early on, she called for a “Republican front” against the far-right - a joint effort involving withdrawing candidates in the second round of the election in favour of those in the best position to beat the far-right.

“Tonight, social justice has won,” Tondelier said in a victory speech. “Tonight, environmental justice has won. Tonight, the people have won. And it’s only just begun.”

Who is Marine Tondelier?

Recognisable by her iconic green blazer, Tondelier has been opposing the far-right from the start of her political career around 15 years ago. She is from the former mining city of Hénin Beaumont in the north of France which is run by RN.

It is part of the 11th constituency of the Pas-de-Calais - a constituency that has been represented by Marine Le Pen since 2017 with Tondelier dubbed “the other Marine”.

Tondelier was elected as an opposition member of the town’s municipal council in 2014 and was a consistently vocal member of local politics. She documented her experiences of bullying and intimidation working under an RN mayor in her 2017 book ‘News from the Front’. She has led France’s Green Party since December 2022.

 Far-left politician Clementine Autain, left, President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier, right, and Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure, centre.
Far-left politician Clementine Autain, left, President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier, right, and Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure, centre.AP Photo/Thomas Padilla, File

As a veteran campaigner against the far-right, Tondelier has been a key player in the creation of the left-wing coalition which swept to victory on Sunday night. She has risen to become a popular political figure in the space of just a few days.

Tondelier accused RN leader Jordan Bardella of avoiding a debate with her, criticising him by saying, “Ah OK, so it’s really official, Bardella only wants to debate men”.

“The NFP is also there to improve your daily life and make your tomorrows possible,” she told France Inter on Monday, “and those who forget ecology will forget themselves.”

What does the Green victory mean for climate action in France?

With no working majority, it will be hard for the NFP’s legislative proposals to pass a parliamentary vote. It will likely have to enter into another coalition which could dilute some of its policies.

Even the NFP itself is a mix of the Socialists, Greens, Communists and the controversial far-left France Unbowed.

The coalition’s plans include investment in renewable energy, developing offshore wind and hydroelectric power, moving away from nuclear energy and implementing a climate plan aimed at carbon neutrality by 2050.

It also mentions a national plan for climate adaptation to protect people and their property that includes temperature thresholds for outdoor workers in extreme heat. And the coalition says it wants to reform the European Union’s divisive agriculture policy.

RN’s defeat has also come as a relief to supporters of the European Green Deal. Leader Jordan Bardella had called on the French government to “renounce” the deal and what he described as “punitive” EU environmental policies.

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