Crimea, continued

Crimea, continued

Andréa Kotarac, LFI, tweeted his support for Jordan Bardella’s list (RN) for the European Parliament on May 14, 2019.  He then announced it on television, stating that “It’s the Left that changed,” and accusing Mélenchon’s Left of “Islamogauchisme” (a pro-Islamic stance). Where should he go next? He moved closer to the National Rally, had lunch with Marine Le Pen. Erik Faurot (RN), a fellow regional counsellor in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, said that the approach had come from Kotarac. “We have never sought to attract people of La France Insoumise.“[1]

But of course Kotarac was taken into the National Rally and was given a place as parliamentary assistant for Hervé Juvin, elected to the European Parliament on Jordan Bardella’s list.[2]. Juvin is an author and an editor and contributor to the extreme right journal Élements; he is  an advisor to Marine Le Pen on matters of environmentalism.  Juvin and Kotarac had met on the stump for the Europeans, on the sacred ground of Hénin-Beaumont.   (Hénin-Beaumont, in Pas-de-Calais, was the site of the FN’s 2014 breakthrough into local elections in the north; it’s also in Marine Le Pen’s constituency in the National Assembly.)  On that occasion, after his public support for Bardella’s list,  the personable Kotarac spoke, with one particularly memorable statement: “If my grandparents shed their blood against Nazism, they did not do it for the sake of écriture inclusive [inclusive writing] or communautarisme [sectarianism.]”[3]

Before the European parliament session and his duties with Juvin began, Kotarac was invited by two RN eurodeputies, Thierry Mariani and  Nicolas Bay (who joined Zemmour’s Réconquête in 2022), and Virginie Joron, head of the RN caucus in the Great East region of France, to a conference in Syria, described by Mariani as in a courageous battle against Islamic terrorists.  Kotarac had a two hour interview with Bachar al-Assad, and stated, upon his return, that “Assad is in the process of winning the war against the Islamistes with [the help of] the Russians and the Iranians, and from this standpoint I feel closer to [Assad] than I do to [former Foreign Minister] Laurent Fabius.”  Once again Kotarac had gone on his own, without telling Juvin, who declined to comment.[4]. But Juvin himself had visited Syria before, and he, Thierry Mariani, and Andréa Kotarac traveled to Syria again in August, 2021, where they met with Bashar Al-Assad–on the 8th anniversary of the chemical weapons assault that killed over 1400 civilians.  The hope was to restore dialogue (and get rid of the sanctions).[5]. After this trip, Kotarac was made an official spokesman for the National Rally.[6]

Before this 2021 trip, Juvin and Kotarac had founded the Parti Localiste on December 15, 2020, creating a micro-party affiliated with the RN and giving Marine Le Pen some environmental credibility. As of April 2021, in an interview with Juvin, the online journal  Mediacités revealed that there was no website; as of this writing, in June 2023, there is one.  It consists mostly of a manifesto that shows the intellectual basis for right-wing environmentalism: a critique of the Left’s measures in favor of the environment, an anti-globalist stance (aimed at the United States, considered the arch-globalist), and an identitarian link between culture and land.  After a diatribe against the various environmental measures taken by those in power (“the folly of renewables,” heavy restrictions on drivers, covid restrictions), “all for the benefit of the multinationals and private monopolies, all against the independents, family businesses, small business and artisans (the self-employed). . . . We are Localistes because we want to decide among ourselves [the matters] that concern us.  We are not nomads like the others.  We are not in France, we are of France.  Chez nous!”  And so on.  The last phrase is the name of many restaurants, but also a tagline of the identitarian movement. [7] 

Both Juvin and Kotarac, the co-founders (and only members?) of the Parti Localiste, obviously share many ideas with the National Rally party.  Both men ran as head of the RN list in the Regional elections of 2021, Juvin for the Pays de la Loire and Kotarac for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, in which they each promoted an environmentalist/RN policy.

Juvin suggested, for example, that the Pays de la Loire, on the western coast of France, should center their future industry around aerospace and marine technology; and for the latter, he proposed a reinvention of sailing ships (wind power), saying–with some reason–that he “was not sure that the great floating cities are a road to the future.”[9]  

The RN, like other parties, has the right of “investiture” of their candidates.  He was “parachuted” into the territory, to the great displeasure of Pascal Gannat, who had previously led the list.  Gannat (who is  considered more a supporter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and of Marion Maréchal rather than a Mariniste), laid into Juvin pretty effectively.  “Certainly Hervé Juvin enjoys [the reputation for] intellectual brio, but it’s only an illusion.  He presents himself as an academic when he has never taught and he knows nothing of the regions.  He is a Parisian!”  Questioned about that, Juvin stated (reasonably) that he had spent his first twenty years in the Loire-Atlantique department and had kept a second home in Nantes until “the 2000s”.  Gannat also criticized the hypocrisy of Juvin’s devotion to localism: “Localism can’t save the economic world.  The proof [that] Hervé Juvin himself doesn’t believe in it, he bought stocks in multinationals for his personal holdings.” (The newspaper checked his required filing of his holdings, and found that half of it consisted of stocks in Amazon, Microsoft, Mondelez, Shell, etc.)  Juvin responded that “the purchase of international stocks permits [me] to participate in economic life and thus to better comprehend this economic world.  It’s also these multinationals who can finance local actions.”  Then, as if realizing the thinness of this response, he added that his wife took care of the portfolio.[8]

It was one sentence too many.

In October, 2022, Juvin’s earlier conviction for domestic violence was upheld; he had spoken little of this, describing it as “a moment of tension” in his 45-years-long marriage; his wife had made no public comment at all. The president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, told him to de-affiliate with all RN groups. He remains in the European Parliament.[9]

Kotarac in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes was the last head of the list to be chosen, and there was considerable tension around the choice. Many would have preferred a long-time party member, Alexis Jolly; he was chosen in the following year for the National Assembly (and won). Marine Le Pen strongly favored him, however, as did the two mayors Steeve Briois (Hénin-Beaumont) and David Rachline (Fréjus) and the deputy Bruno Bilde, all of them part of Marine’s inner circle.[10]. Kotarac’s environmentalist platform was even more sketchy than Juvin’s, as he spoke vaguely about local industry and a focus on tourism (which, as he noted, can’t be moved to another country); he also emphasized “security,” with (curiously) a particular focus on violence against women.[11]

Neither man won enough votes to become president of their respective Regional Councils; but both won a large enough percentage to place themselves, and some of their members, on the Council, and thus to continue in political life.  

How did their environmentalism translate into a pro-Putin stance,  particularly given the enormous poisoning of the land and the ecosystem that Russia’s invasion has unleashed, and why do right-wing parties gravitate to Putin?  

To be continued.


Header Image: Black Sea coast at twilight, Crimean peninsula: Photo 36469268 © Chingis |

[1] Laurent Bernard, “Régionales 2021: qui est Andréa Kotarac, ex-insoumis, qui conduit la liste RN en Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes?”, La Montagne, June 5, 2021.

[2] European Union Parliamentary elections are held nationally and the results determined proportionately; each party puts forward a list ranked in order; the higher up on the list, the more likely to be elected.  Juvin was 5th on the RN list of 79. 

[3]. Ivanne Trippenbach, “Andrea Kotarac devient assistant parlementaire européen du RN,” L’Opinion, September 2, 2019.“Inclusive writing” is the rather dreadful French attempt to deal with the usage of the masculine form for plurals.  An example of inclusive writing: mes concitoyens (my fellow citizens) becomes mes

[4] Ivanne Trippenbach, “Andrea Kotarac.” The reference to Laurent Fabius, President François Hollande’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, referred to Fabius’ anger with President Barack Obama for refusing military action in 2013, even when Assad crossed “the red line” by gassing his people.  Celestine Bohlen, “A Turning Point for Syrian War, and U.S. Credibility,” The New York Times, February 22, 2016.

[5] Syria: regime meets delegation of MEPs aiming to restore ties,” Middle East Monitor, August 23, 2021.

[6] Marie Allenou, “Présidentielle: le lyonnais Andrea Kotarac (RN) est nommé porte-parole de campagne de Marine Le Pen,” Lyon Capitale, November 5, 2021.

[7] Antony Torzec, “Régionales: Hervé Juvin, le joker ‘écolo localiste’ du RN en Pays de la Loire,” Mediacités, April 22, 2021. The localist party website:

[8] Torzec, “Régionales.”

[9] Torzec, “Régionales” (quotation; Violette Lazard and Lucas Burel, “L’eurodéputé du Rassemblement national Hervé Juvin condamné pour violences conjugales,” L’Obs, November 7, 2022.

[10] Robin D’Angelo, “Régionales en Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: le Rassemblement national choisit un ex-Insoumis dans la douleur,” Le Journal du Dimanche, March 9, 2021.

[11] Ève Mouliner, “A La Tour-du-Pin, Andréa Kotarac (RN) propose un ‘plan Marshall contre les violences faites aux femmes,” Le Dauphiné, May 29, 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *