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Fabien de Sans-Nicolas answers your questions

Fabien_1_2How do the Jeunes Populaires work? How are you organised? Any examples of recent campaigns or conferences? Do you have full-time staff?

The Jeunes Populaires (JP) are structured in departmental branches. Each one of them is ran by a local leader we call RDJ (Responsable Départemental des Jeunes) who shapes it regarding the local needs, the number of members and the pro-activeness he has. None of them is full time employed. The National Board, elected together with president, is in charge of national campaigns, events and overall organisation. We recently involved our local branches in making proposals for the presidential debate, and a national commission gathered and synthesised it all to promote a global contribution of the JP to the programme debate of the party.

What is the nature of your links with the UMP? Are your members automatically members of the UMP? Are there any other youth organisations inside or around the UMP?

JP is a fully integrated part of UMP. We are linked to the mother party. Since any of our members are first of all members of the mother party, the extra membership to JP is offered to them by UMP that refunds us. Therefore, we also are very active in UMP campaigns and try and provide it with propositions. We also try and source it with youngsters of great potential (to get involved in city council in particular), but also at any level. The JP are the only so called "youth league of UMP", but still we are working together with the youth leagues of fellow partner parties of UMP.

Jeunes How many of your members hold elected offices - in local councils, etc.? How many of your members have been selected to stand for Parliament at the next general election? Are you happy with the influence, the role given to the young members inside the UMP?

The Jeunes Populaires gather more than 30 000 members, many of them are already members of city councils, and even mayors and MPs. And within UMP, the JP are represented in various organs. But still UMP is improving the youth representation for coming terms. We already gave the party's support to 40 candidates under 40, 20 under 35 and even 2 under 30 for next year general elections. So we still can represent better the youth within the mother party but thanks to the willingness of our president Nicolas SARKOZY, working on the image politicians give, we already made a noticeable improvement.

How and to which extent have the JP contributed to the UMP manifesto for the next general elections? What are the specific issues you've focused on?

After a whole year of local debates, summarised in departmental contributions to the debate, a project commission gathered numerous times during the summer to synthesise it in the "Jeunes Populaires' contribution to the legislative programme of UMP". This contribution focus on propositions related to education (secondary and higher); professionnal, economical and social integration of youngsters; civic life; culture; family; health; Europe; environmental and institutional issues. All of them include a set of concrete proposals to achieve "la France d'après" (motto of the UMP project).

How will Les Jeunes Populaires be involved in the selection of the UMP presidential candidate? Will you vote? Are most of you running for Nicolas Sarkozy? What will be your role in his campaign?

The JP will be involved in the candidate selection process as any other member will. The campaign for the party support will last until the end of December and the vote will take place the first fortnight of January. The Jeunes Populaires are not taking position in favour of one candidate.

Even if I personally think Nicolas SARKOZY would be the best candidate for all of us, the JP will campaign for the one coming out of the poll.

Do you expect President Chirac to stand again? Can you think of anything rightwing that Chirac has done in his entire tenure? Can you think of anything right indeed?

President Chirac will tell the French citizens on March if he stands again.

President Chirac didn't do what we can call a rightwing presidency. He did things which he found good for France, even they were rightwing or leftwing, like Charles de Gaulle did. Maybe the state and the welfare state took a too large part in its motto...

What would be, according to you, the 3 priorities for Nicolas Sarkozy's Presidency? What are the most striking differences between Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal? Is there a danger to see Le Pen at the 2nd ballot of the Presidential election? If it does happen - and if it is a reverse 21 April 2002, do you think that the UMP voters would easily support Royal against the Extreme Right at the 2nd Ballot?

On the one hand, Nicolas SARKOZY should focus on creating general environment for growth, which includes softening the very bad 35hr working week, lowering the debts and taxes, reshaping the State to focus on education and innovation. On the other hand he should focus his reforms on improving what you, British people, call social life (in France the word "social" has always to do with the welfare state or trade unions), meaning how do people live together with their neighbours, what an immigration policy and how to integrate immigrants...

The differences between Nicolas SARKOZY and Ségolène ROYAL are numerous. The most important is probably the lack of preparation and convictions Mrs ROYAL shows hiding behind her gender status and having no personal opinion on some of the major issues.

But if we had a reverse 21 April 2002, there would be no choice and the JP would call to support the democratic candidate, even this candidate is Mrs ROYAL.

What's the attitude of the JP - and the UMP in general - on Europe? How would you describe Nicolas Sarkozy's europhilia?

The JP have no difference to UMP on European issues, even if we are probably a bit more on the edge. Nicolas SARKOZY's europhilia is a great chance for both France and Europe, it shows that with willing French leaders, we still can imagine new proposal to tighten Europe closer to citizen's will.

What do you think of Blairism? There seems to have been some kind of fascination for the PM in France. Why? and is it still true?

In France we probably have the most archaic left party. I think that's the reason why we do admire Tony Blair and the reforms he led.

Is it a good time to grow up in France? Have you ever thought about leaving your country?

It is rather a good time to grow up in France. We still have a great standard of living, a great diversity in landscapes, cultures, foods and drinks, but we also still have a welfare state our people do appreciate. It doesn't mean we want to keep it still. We need to cut some expenses to safe the whole system, to lower the taxes and the debt, we have to put our people back to work. But the positive things are really worth to support the inconvenients. And what's best for politician than to imagine ways making things going better. Nonetheless, and to be frank, I go abroad (and even overseas as you may say) to benchmark other countries' solutions to problems we all have in common. I met some interesting things there, but I'm so attached to my "motherland" that I do not imagine myself living abroad for years.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

You know, I'm not even thirty so ten years is a unit I'm not used to giving. I can tell you that in the coming months, I have to move my JP members to a campaign for the one who gets the party's support. And even the most experienced and the most clever French politician doesn't know where he will be in one year, so let's imagine how it is for a youngster like me, with still so much to learn.

Many thanks to Fabien for taking the time to answer our questions so comprehensively. Franck Guillory gave an intro to Les Juines Populaires here.


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