The first TV debate of the 2017 French primaries took place this Wednesday, and it did two things: it maintained the Juppé/Sarkozy status quo while it propelled an as of now unknown candidate, namely Jean-Frédéric Poisson.
At first glance indeed, Juppé and Sarkozy remain ahead: 36% of the viewers consider Juppé the winner of the debate, followed by Sarkozy (22%).
As for Poisson, only 2% of the viewers acquainted him as the victor, yet he exceeds the result of Jean-François Copé, a much more familiar figure. Interestingly as well, 14% voted “Undecided”. On the other hand, Poisson earned 29 points throughout the debate, as many viewers sympathized with his ideas.
Now, who is this new player and what are his views? He is the President of the emerging Christian Democratic Party (or PCD, founded in 2009) since 2013, and his stance on major issues are revealing of a new shade of Republicanism. Regarding the economy, Poisson supports the current situation (which I criticized in my previous article): he is against the possibility for companies to negotiate the hours of their employees (the French “35 Heures” law), approves the substantial amount of power allotted to business syndicates, wants to implement income tax to every household (a hazardous plan according to Le Monde), although he rejects the recent tax-deducted-at-source reform, and wishes to increase the Defense budget. In short, he is a specialist in employment law who intends to keep on with interventionism.
Surprisingly however, his social and political views are closer to the Front National than the other candidates. He wants to revoke gay marriage and adoption, as well as reduce the number of abortions, which he calls “a public health goal.” Moreover, he is an Euroskeptic and refuses to incarcerate individuals with the “S” card, i.e. potential terrorists. Last but not least, he was considered sexist after referring to the outfit of his female colleagues as “a treat”.
Jean-Frédéric Poisson offers us yet another unconvincing picture of the Republicans: over-used economic and political ideas that have proved to be detrimental to France, as opposed to right-wing opinions on marriage and pregnancy. In a somewhat ironic nutshell: he is an anti-liberal Republican.