Philippe Poutou

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Philippe Poutou in June 2011
Philippe Poutou in April 2012 in Toulouse

Philippe Poutou (French pronunciation: ​[filip putu]; born 14 March 1967[citation needed] in Villemomble, Seine-Saint-Denis[citation needed]) is a French far left political figure and trade unionist, and worker in a car factory.

He is secretary of the General Confederation of Labour at the Ford Motor Company in the région of Aquitaine, and is a worker in that industry. In 2007, he played a leading role in union negotiations with the company over the potential axing of 2000 jobs, and was a union spokesman to the media.[1][2]

He was a candidate for the Revolutionary Communist League in the 2007 legislative election, where it obtained 2.7% of the vote (and no seats in the National Assembly), then led its successor party, the New Anticapitalist Party, during the 2010 regional elections in his home region of Aquitaine. He obtained 2.52% of the vote.[1][2]

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, and 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.[1][2] 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 function of President, 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 obtained equal airtime in the media. In particular, his unconventional behaviour drew attention during the television programme Des paroles et des actes (fr), 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, his message was that improvements in workers' rights would come through workers' struggles and demands rather than through the ballot box.[3][4][5][6][7][8] 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".[9][10] 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.[11][12]

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