Philippe Poutou

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Philippe Poutou
Philippe Poutou - Gilets jaunes (2019).jpg
Poutou in 2019
Born14 March 1967 (1967-03-14) (age 56)
Occupation(s)Trade unionist, car factory worker, politician
Known forFrench presidential candidate (2012, 2017, 2022)
Political partyNew Anticapitalist Party (2009–present)
Other political
Lutte Ouvrière (1985–1997)
Revolutionary Communist League (2000–2009)

Philippe Poutou (French pronunciation: ​[filip putu]; born 14 March 1967)[1] is a French far-left[citation needed] politician, former trade unionist and car factory worker. He was the New Anticapitalist Party's candidate in the presidential elections of 2012, 2017 and 2022, in which he respectively received 1.15%, 1.09% and 0.76% of the vote.

Trade union activity[edit]

Poutou was secretary of the General Confederation of Labour at the Ford Motor Company in the Aquitaine region of France. He was a car industry worker until his factory closed in 2019.[2] In 2007, he played a leading role in union negotiations with the company over the potential axing of 2,000 jobs; he was a union spokesman to the media.[3][4]

Early political activity[edit]

Poutou was a candidate for the Revolutionary Communist League in the 2007 legislative election. He stood in the 5th constituency of Gironde, where he gathered 1,582 votes (2.7%) and placed eighth, as the party failed to win a seat in the National Assembly. He then led its successor party, the New Anticapitalist Party, in the 2010 regional election in his home region of Aquitaine. He failed to be elected a regional councillor as the list he led obtained 2.5% of the vote.[3][4] Poutou stood again in the 2012 legislative election in which he gathered 1,264 votes (2.12%) and placed eighth a second time. In the 2014 European Parliament election, he led the New Anticapitalist Party list in South-West France but failed to be elected an MEP.

Presidential candidacies[edit]


Poutou campaigning for the presidency in March 2012 in Toulouse

In June 2011, he was chosen by the New Anticapitalist Party as its candidate for the 2012 presidential election. Media noted that he was virtually unknown to the public, as well as that he might find it difficult to succeed previous candidate Olivier Besancenot, a well recognised figure popular beyond the party itself. He would, in addition, have to contend with divisions within the party over whether to engage more with the Left Front, with an aim to unify the political forces on the left of the centre-left Socialist Party.[3][4]

For much of the campaign, he remained little known to the general public; he was described as lacking Besancenot's popularity, charisma and ease with words. Freely admitting that he did not particularly want to be a candidate and that he did not aim to be elected, particularly as one of his policies was to abolish the presidency, in favour of a fully parliamentary system, he saw his profile and popularity increase somewhat in the late stages of the campaign, when all candidates confirmed by the Constitutional Council obtained equal airtime in the media as required by law. In particular, his unconventional behaviour drew attention during the television programme Des paroles et des actes hosted by David Pujadas on France 2, along with his unusual campaign clips – such as one based on the film The Artist, or another parodying the gameshow Questions pour un champion and playing on the fact that Poutou remained little-known to the public.

Like Trotskyist candidate Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvrière, his message was that improvements in workers' rights would come through workers' struggles and demands rather than through the ballot box.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Obtaining 1.15% of the vote, finishing eighth out of ten, Poutou called upon voters to "vote against Sarkozy" in the second round. The press partly explained his low result by the fact that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the Left Front, had attracted the bulk of voters on the "left of the left".[11][12] Poutou explained that, while he hoped Hollande would win rather than Sarkozy, the New Anticapitalist Party would have to help build an "opposition on the left" to the new government.[13][14]


On 20 March 2016, Poutou was nominated by the New Anticapitalist Party as its candidate in the 2017 presidential election. In a televised debate on 4 April 2017, he denounced "corrupt politicians" and advocated for lower salaries for elected officials. His remarks earned him the applause of fellow candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise. Poutou attacked François Fillon and Marine Le Pen, the first of which warned he could sue for the corruption claims that were made.[15] Furthermore, Poutou addressed the moderators stating "it's not because I don't have a tie that you have to interrupt me". For several media observers, Poutou was the most prominent debate partaker.[16][17][18] In the election, he received 1.09% of the vote and placed eighth out of eleven, as Mélenchon, the best-placed left-wing candidate in fourth place, had gathered over 3 million additional votes compared to 2012.


Poutou speaking in Audincourt in February 2022

Poutou supported and took part in the yellow vests movement that started in 2018, within the larger protests against Emmanuel Macron, stating it was "the expression of a fed up with a society that is deeply unjust".[19] On 28 June 2020, he took office as a municipal councillor and metropolitan councillor of Bordeaux, following the 2020 municipal election, in which he campaigned most notably for free public transportation. Previous attempts to win a seat in the municipal council as lead candidate in 2001 and 2014 were unsuccessful.

Despite initial statements he would not run in 2022, Poutou was invested a third time by his party ahead of the 2022 presidential election. He stated he had "many things to say" to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.[20]

In the first round of the 2022 presidential election, Poutou received 268,904 votes, 0.76% of the total vote. Ahead of the 2022 legislative election, Poutou announced his party would not take part in the New People's Ecologist and Social Union (NUPES) headed by Mélenchon.[21] He was notably critical of the Socialist Party's weight in the alliance.


  1. ^ "Programme de Philippe Poutou candidat à l'élection présidentielle 2017". Le Monde. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Philippe Poutou, officiellement licencié de l'usine Ford", RTL (in French), 31 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Le NPA se choisit un candidat pour 2012 mais ne s'épargne pas les doutes", Le Monde (in French), 26 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "2012 : le NPA mise sur l'ouvrier Philippe Poutou", Le Parisien (in French), 25 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Retour sur la campagne : la sélection du service politique du "Monde"", Le Monde (in French), 21 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Et Philippe Poutou creva soudain l'écran...", Le Monde (in French), 12 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Philippe Poutou est... "The Anticapitaliste"", La Dépêche (in French), 20 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Clip officiel: The Anticapitalist", official campaign website, 18 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Clip officiel : Questions pour une élection", official campaign website, 11 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Poutou s'est fait un nom", Le Figaro (in French), 23 April 2012.
  11. ^ " Petit score pour Poutou et Arthaud, phagocytés par Mélenchon", Agence France Presse (in French), 23 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Au QG de Philippe Poutou : "Il s'est vraiment révélé !"", Le Nouvel Observateur (in French), 22 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Poutou perd en voix mais gagne en popularité", Le Journal du Dimanche (in French), 23 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Poutou vote à Bordeaux, évoque une "opposition de gauche" à construire", Le Point (in French), 22 April 2012.
  15. ^ "«Grand débat» de la présidentielle : la charge de Poutou contre Fillon et Le Pen", Le Parisien (in French), 5 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Débat des onze candidats : comment Poutou a marqué les esprits", Europe 1 (in French), 5 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Comment Poutou s'est démarqué lors du débat en dénonçant les affaires", BFM TV (in French), 5 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Présidentielle : les dix fois où Philippe Poutou s'est fait remarquer pendant "Le Grand Débat", francetvinfo (in French), 5 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Mélenchon, Besancenot, Poutou... Ces politiques qui défilent aux côtés des « gilets jaunes » à Paris", CNews (in French), 23 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Présidentielle: Philippe Poutou a «plein de choses à dire» à Emmanuel Macron", Libération (in French), 9 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Législatives : Philippe Poutou s’écarte de l’union à gauche et dézingue le PS", Marianne (in French), 6 May 2022.