Her radical “punk ecology” has gained help amongst activists on the left and been attacked by the far proper as harmful to the French nation. However Sandrine Rousseau, a figurehead of the #MeToo motion towards sexual violence and a self-described “eco-feminist,” has shocked the political class by reaching the ultimate spherical of the Greens’ main race to decide on a presidential candidate.
Now, with an opportunity of working for president , Rousseau is warning France dangers a descent into hatred and racism except equality and the environment take precedence in April’s election race.
“I feel we’re at a crossroads of civilisations,” Rousseau mentioned. She mentioned both France was heading to the aspect of the far-right ideologue and TV pundit Eric Zemmour, who’s getting ready a possible presidential bid based mostly on anti-immigration, and much proper chief Marine Le Pen, “which might imply closing in on ourselves with macho politics, racist and anti-environmental politics,” or, she mentioned, “we may have a political imaginative and prescient of respect, inclusion and ecology – that’s what I’m bringing.”
Rousseau, an environmental economist and college vice-president who spoke out over allegations of sexual assault and harassment throughout the Inexperienced get together in 2016 and later fashioned an organisation serving to girls file authorized complaints over sexual violence, has gone from outsider in a denim jumpsuit to finalist on this weekend’s open main vote for the Inexperienced get together (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) presidential candidate.
She sees it as a battle to change into the primary #MeToo president. “I feel I’m the primary particular person to come back out of the #MeToo motion and say let’s take energy and rework it,” she mentioned. “And I feel that resonates past France.”
Supported internationally by the actor and activist Jane Fonda and the playwright V (previously Eve Ensler), Rousseau has been known as a harmful radical by the French far proper for what she calls her “eco-feminism,” anti-racism and her promise that France can transition to totally renewable vitality by 2050. She says this vitality transition – together with ending France’s reliance on nuclear energy and pesticides – is feasible provided that the state takes important social measures to assist individuals adapt, equivalent to rising taxes on the wealthy, a four-day working week and a brand new type of fundamental common revenue.
“What I imply by punk ecology is impertinence,” Rousseau mentioned, including that she needed representatives voted into parliament who have been so engaged on environmental points that they wouldn’t collapse. “Persons are aware of the climate crisis and what’s at stake – they need bravery. Politicians being timid on this can be a mistake. It’s time for radical ecology – have a look at the efforts we completely should make within the subsequent 5 years: we’ve got to resist the financial system and sort out the best way it’s organised. If we make bland options, individuals can’t belief us to take motion.”
Polling this month for Le Monde discovered 82% of French individuals needed swift motion to guard the atmosphere even when it meant adjustments to their lifestyle. However the historic problem for the French Greens has at all times been how you can translate what Rousseau calls “eco-anxiety” into get together votes. The Greens have elevated their city vote, taking management of key cities together with Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux final yr, however they didn’t win a area within the June elections and have been polling at lower than 10% for the presidential first spherical – towards a crowded discipline of left wing candidates.
Rousseau, 49, has upset predictions within the Greens’ main race, which stays exhausting to name. For months, Yannick Jadot, a member of the European parliament who’s seen as having a extra centrist stance and is polling greater than Rousseau, was anticipated to be chosen as presidential candidate when outcomes are introduced subsequent week. However his lead on Rousseau is narrower than anticipated. He was candidate in 2017 however withdrew in favour of the socialist Benoît Hamon, who ended up scoring solely 6% within the first spherical.
Rousseau’s standing as a hero of the #MeToo motion in France has garnered her help amongst feminists, rights campaigners and cultural figures together with the movie director Céline Sciamma. She says she will win again the disillusioned youth vote – 87% of 18- to 25-year-olds did not end up to vote on this yr’s regional elections.
Rousseau mentioned a significant purpose behind her return to politics final yr was her outrage when president Emmanuel Macron – who was in workplace in the course of the #MeToo motion and promised to enhance girls’s rights – appointed Gérald Darmanin as his inside minister in control of police, regardless of judges persevering with to research an accusation of rape towards him.
She mentioned: “The one rationalization was that Emmanuel Macron, and never simply him however the entire political class basically, had failed to know what had occurred in #MeToo, they hadn’t understood the anger.”
Darmanin has criticised Rousseau publicly and denied wrongdoing. His attorneys mentioned that “three consecutive court docket choices” had “recognised the absence of an offence” and so they have been now awaiting the investigating decide’s closing choice after the inquiry ended final week.
Regardless of Macron’s 2017 promise to “make our planet nice once more” – a swipe at former US President Donald Trump’s denials on the local weather disaster – France’s Excessive Council on Local weather has repeatedly warned the federal government is falling brief on pledges to cut back emissions. The year-long gilets jaunes (yellow vests) anti-government protests started as a disaster in local weather coverage over plans for a carbon tax supposed to induce motorists to vary their behaviour.
Rousseau mentioned the gilets jaunes weren’t towards preventing local weather change however as a substitute “they have been towards the very fact they have been getting no assist.”
Far-right concepts have been taking over an increasing number of house in French political debate, she mentioned, as a result of the left had did not have an effect over its key themes, “equality, faculty, ecology and anti-racism.” She added: “There isn’t a political consultant or presidential candidate as we speak who places the phrases ‘anti-racism’ into the political debate and I’m doing that.”
France was nonetheless “traumatised by terrorist assaults, nonetheless in worry,” Rousseau mentioned. “However we actually have to seek out hope once more.”