Jose Bove to run for presidency
SAINT DENIS, France, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - France's iconic farmer-activist Jose Bove on Thursday threw his hat into the ring for April's presidential election, as a candidate for the anti-capitalist far left.Calling for an "electoral uprising against economic liberalism," the 53-year-old anti-globalisation campaigner told a press conference in a poor north Paris suburb he wanted to be a "spokesman for those who have no voice.""We want to say that an alternative is possible, for those who no longer believe in
SAINT DENIS, France, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - France's iconic farmer-activist Jose Bove on Thursday threw his hat into the ring for April's presidential election, as a candidate for the anti-capitalist far left.Calling for an "electoral uprising against economic liberalism," the 53-year-old anti-globalisation campaigner told a press conference in a poor north Paris suburb he wanted to be a "spokesman for those who have no voice.""We want to say that an alternative is possible, for those who no longer believe in the traditional left," Bove said, calling for voters to rally behind him to "defeat the right and the far-right".
"I am not the candidate of a party... My candidacy is that of a gathering of forces and citizens," he said.
"We want a left of social and democratic transformation, an anti-racist, feminist and ecological left. A true left."
Standard-bearer of the French anti-globalisation movement, Bove shot to worldwide fame in 1999 after trashing a half-built McDonald's outlet in southern France, and his campaign for a moratorium on genetically-modified (GM) crops continues to makes regular headlines.
Bove said he decided to run -- despite warnings he could fatally split a far-left vote already shared between four other candidates -- after 32,000 people signed a petition in his support.
Thrown together by their joint campaign against the European Union constitution in France's 2005 referendum, the different strands of the far-left tried but failed to agree on a joint bid for the presidential election.
Bove becomes the 44th declared candidate in a race dominated by two clear frontrunners, the right-wing Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal.
He launced a scathing attack on both Sarkozy -- describing him as "a dangerous man" who sought to create "a state of police and punishment" -- and Royal, as "the embodiment of a left that has surrendered" to capitalism.
Appealing to those disillusioned by "precariousness and discrimination," Bove promised to champion the cause of all those who "revolted" in France's riot-hit suburbs in 2005.
"We want the millions of people who live in live in high-rise estates in the suburbs, in popular neighbourhoods, whatever their origin and beliefs, to cease to be viewed as second-rate citizens in their own country," he said.
Bove launched into the race despite warnings he could drain votes away from Royal, increasing the chances of far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of beating the Socialists into the second round as happened in the 2002 election.
Currently credited with two to three percent of voting intentions, Bove still needs to secure the sponsorship of 500 elected officials to be allowed to run, and has admitted he faces a challenge getting the full amount.
Bove also faces a possible four-month jail sentence for destroying GM crops in a case to go before France's high court of appeal early this month, although he has vowed he will campaign from his jail cell if necessary.
His activism has already earned him three spells in prison, for the McDonald's incident in 1999, and in 2001 and 2003 for ripping up GM crops.
Bove turned his back on city life in the 1970s, setting up as a sheep farmer and Roquefort cheese producer in the French countryside near Millau, where he campaigned to block plans to expand a military camp on the starkly beautiful Larzac plateau.
In 1987 he founded the radical Small Farmers Confederation to champion the cause of small producers, launching a 20-year crusade with fast-food, and now GM crops, as its prime targets.
Subject: French news, Presidential elections, Jose Bove