“”A little-known candidate emerged as the star of the televised French presidential debate after challenging two of the frontrunners over their honesty and implication in fraud scandals.
The militant Philippe Poutou, of the New Anti-capitalist party, weighed into the far-right favourite, Marine Le Pen, and conservative François Fillon, who are both under investigation for misuse of public funds.
While the 10 other candidates stuck to their political programmes during the four-hour live televised debate – which was watched by 6 million viewers – Poutou was determined to address the elephant in the room.
Having refused to pose with the others for the official photograph, saying “they’re not my colleagues”, Poutou (whose name means “little kiss” in French) told Le Pen that ordinary workers did not have the option of ignoring a legal summons. …
… Poutou, 50, the son of a postman, left school without qualifications after failing his baccalaureate in mechanics. He currently works at a Ford factory repairing the production line machines.
He arrived at the studio wearing a beige T-shirt – in stark contrast to the other male candidates all in suits and ties – and was combative from the start.
Asked to introduce himself, he said: “I’m a factory worker and apart from Nathalie Arthaud, I believe I’m the only one to have a normal job”, adding that he was against the “indecent rich”.
When the moderators pointed out he was running over the time limit, Poutou said: “Just because I’m not wearing a tie, doesn’t mean you can interrupt me.”
At one point he added: “Everyone is fed up with corrupt politicians, and some here know that.”
Poutou stood in the 2012 presidential election, with the slogan “Let the capitalists pay for their crises”, and obtained 1.15% of the votes – 411,160 – in the first round.
This time his slogan is: “Our lives not their profits.”
An Ipsos survey on Wednesday suggested 65% of those asked considered honesty and probity important in a leader.” …