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European elections: French Socialist Party candidate vows to fight rise of far right

Raphael Glucksmann lead candidate of the French Socialist Party for the upcoming European election, arrives onstage during a meeting in Paris, Thursday, May 30, 2024.
Raphael Glucksmann lead candidate of the French Socialist Party for the upcoming European election, arrives onstage during a meeting in Paris, Thursday, May 30, 2024. Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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During a major campaign meeting in Paris, MEP Raphaël Glucksmann rallied a surprising alliance of young voters and the older left-wing generation to push back against the rising far right in Europe.

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The legendary red room of the Zénith concert hall in Paris, which has welcomed the likes of AC/DC, Lady Gaga, and David Bowie, is starting to fill up slowly. 

Between 3,000 and 4,000 people gathered on Thursday evening to see the European elections candidate representing the French Socialist Party (PS-PP), 44-year-old essayist Raphaël Glucksmann. 

The young and old intermingled, waving European flags against the vivid backdrop of the French Socialist Party's pink and yellow colours. The slogans “Tax the Rich” and "Waking up Europe" appeared almost everywhere. 

At the foot of the stage, a star-studded crowd of elected officials is present, including Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor of Paris, Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and the German Socialist MEP Mathias Ecke, who was violently attacked by far-right sympathisers early May while putting up campaign posters in Dresden.

For many, Glucksmann is their only “realistic hope against the rise of the far right” in France during the upcoming 9 June vote, said Hidalgo as she took to the stage to introduce the candidate. 

Grabbing votes from undecided and youth

Five years after obtaining 6% in the last European elections, the Socialist Party MEP is now neck-and-neck with French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance, headed by Valérie Hayer. Hayer is currently ahead of Glucksmann by just 0.5% of voting intentions at 15%, according to the latest polls.

However, the two are still trailing the far-right candidate Jordan Bardella of the National Rally, who currently holds 34% of voting intentions.

Within the last ten days of the election, the goal is to nab votes from the younger voters, the undecided, and Macron’s centre-right party. 

After over an hour of introductory speeches, Glucksmann was welcomed like a rockstar, taking time for multiple selfies and handshakes with the public. 

On stage, the MEP repeated that “Europe is threatened and democracy is fragile”, denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and insisting on increased support to Kyiv. 

In the crowd, 19-year-old law student Olympe told Euronews she is convinced by the candidate.

Up until then, she was hesitating between voting for the Socialists and the Green party headed by Marie Toussaint. 

Although she disagrees with Glucksmann’s proposal to accelerate Ukraine’s accession to the bloc, she said she was charmed by his proposal to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and tax the richest incomes in Europe. 

Glucksmann’s campaign is centred around a “sovereign and powerful Europe”, a common theme shared by multiple candidates this year on the left and right of the political spectrum.

The head of the Socialist Party also called for an “energy revolution” by introducing a larger share of nuclear power — a stark difference from his other left-wing competitors such as the far-left LFI party (La France Insoumise) and the Green party (EELV). 

Glucksmann also said his first move if he were re-elected would be to push for a “Most Favoured European Clause” to cover women's rights, which would extend national legislation beneficial to women to the rest of the bloc’s countries.

The feminist pledge was appreciated by old-school socialists such as Nicole and Danielle, both 86-year-old retired nurses, who told Euronews that they were scared of the rise of "antifeminist movements" in Europe. 

Glucksmann concluded his hour-long speech by claiming he is "the efficient vote, the vote of the heart, the vote that is going to wake Europe up," as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

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Many of the older voters in the crowd who are nostalgic for the golden age of French socialism told Euronews that the candidate represents a breath of fresh air for the traditional left-wing party.

"I found Raphaël Glucksmann likeable, sincere, and dynamic. Finally, we have a charismatic left-wing politician," said Mathieu, a 49-year-old comic book artist.

"It's been a long time since the left has had a clear message,” Michel, 65, an employee of the culture ministry, told Euronews.

"He represents the new face of the social democratic left combined with realistic ambitions."

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