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‘Don’t touch my rural life’: French hunters’ representative announces EU election bid

8 months ago 40

French hunters’ representative Willy Schraen has made his candidacy for the EU elections official, heading a list that will defend the rural way of life he says is under threat from EU ‘technocrats’.

Known for being outspoken in French media, Willy Schraen, spokesman and president of the French hunters’ federation, confirmed on radio France Bleu Nord on Monday that he will lead the list called “Touche pas à ma ruralité” (Don’t touch my rural life) in the next year’s European elections.

Schraen intends to defend the interests of rural people, those “who are practically pariahs for Europe and a minority part of French society”, he said, referring notably to hunters, fishermen, bullfighting enthusiasts, and farmers, amongst others.

His “don’t touch my rural life” message is addressed at the “European elite” and technocrats, whom he says “make laws every week” while “the good people at the end take them in the face”.

Taking aim at the EU’s 2023 ban on internal combustion cars, the newly announced EU election candidate criticised a ban imposed by “a hundred technocrats” in the middle of an economic crisis, when, in his view, many people will never be able to afford an electric car.

“European directives dictate our lives far more than we think”, he added.

Another point of contention for Schraen is environmental measures, which he describes as “punitive” and “animalistic”.

“I’m not sure whether we’ll have the right to ride a horse tomorrow; I’m not sure whether we’ll be allowed to put an earthworm on a hook; I’m not sure whether we’ll be allowed to eat prime rib on the barbecue!” he also said.

But Schraen’s EU election bid could have voters typically in favour of Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party rethink their vote.

While both are popular in rural France, with Schraen proposing similar changes to those heralded by the Dutch farmers’ movement BBB, which is gaining momentum in the Netherlands, RN members were quick to highlight Schraen’s call to vote for French President Emmanuel Macron in the 2022 election – pointing to the likely close ties also hinted at by  Le Figaro, which reported that Macron had reportedly even agreed to endorse him before he made his campaign plea official.

Responding to the RN’s allegations that “Schraen works for Macron”, he said, “It pisses them all off, but Schraen is a free spirit”.

In the 1999 EU elections, the Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions party, which defended similar values, obtained 6.77% of the vote and six seats in the European Parliament.

Schraen, however, hopes to at least pass the 3% mark to be entitled to a refund of campaign expenses which he says will amount to €2 million – and  “maybe 5% to be elected”.

(Hugo Struna | Euractiv.fr)

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