Norwegian aims for French presidency

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Eva Joly, an Oslo native who rose to become a corruption-busting judge in France, was relishing her latest victory this week at the highest levels of French politics. She’s aiming for the French presidency and chances are good she’ll at least snare a ministerial post next year.

Norwegian-born Eva Joly, with her trademark red glasses, suddenly has emerged as a candidate for the French presidency, or at least a ministerial post if the socialist side wins next year. PHOTO: WIkipedia Commons

Joly was being celebrated by supporters and her recently expanded Greens-Europe-Ecology party after winning the primary against Nicolas Hulot, a TV celebrity who’d been favoured. Joly, however, secured 58 percent of the vote and Hulot 41 percent.

Joly, best known for prosecuting French oil company Elf in a major corruption scandal, is viewed as a combative defender of the environment who has vowed to challenge lobbyists and financial interests in her fearless drive against corruption and pollution and for social justice. She wants to make France less dependent on nuclear power and has campaigned strongly on the grounds that ethics should also apply at the top of government and industry.

Her message on the left side of French politics clearly has been embraced by many voters, hurling her into the top ranks and now making her a candidate for the French presidency. It’s unlikely the Greens party would gain a majority, but it may become part of a new government, meaning Joly would likely be a member of it.

Joly holds both Norwegian and French citizenship, is a member of the European Parliament and has maintained interest in Norwegian and Nordic issues as well, serving on commissions addressing fraud and ethics within the last decade. She was then highly visible in Oslo, even though she moved to France more than 40 years ago, married and had children there, completed law school and was tapped for the French judiciary.

She’s long been popular among many Norwegians for her social welfare advocacy and now her working-class, “no-nonsense” background seems to appeal to French voters as well. Her Norwegian accent when speaking French is seen as a detriment by some, but endearing to others, not least because she reportedly has refused to subject herself to media coaching.

She told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten that she thinks many French voters identify with her, including a toothless farmer who told her she was making progress. “It’s as if he and other voters think the same as I do,” she said, while one analyst told newspaper Dagsavisen that many view her as honest and untainted by so-called “spin doctors” and other political consultants.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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