“The austerity of Brussels is a mistake, let's enforce a new growth through our vote,” was a tweet from Jean Cristophe Cabanelis before being elected secretary general of French Socialists.
“The austerity of Brussels is a mistake, let's enforce a new growth through our vote,” was one of the latest tweets sent by Jean Cristophe Cabanelis a little before being elected secretary general of the French Socialist party last night by the national congress taking over from Harlem Desir, weeks after local polls in which the Socialists lost dozens of towns to the right and far-right opposition.
Cambadelis faces the task of quieting dissent from the party's far left and avoiding further humiliation in European parliament elections on 25 May takes over a party in crisis, split between a core that supports Hollande's shift towards supply-side economic policies and far-left factions which strongly oppose it, with little time to enact his mandate of modernization. Infighting could further damage the party ahead of the May election, where Marine Le Pen's National Front party is expected to do well, with Hollande's popularity hitting rock bottom.
Cambadelis, made his mark as a student union leader in the 1970s before joining the Socialist Party, is returning from the cold after he failed to support Hollande during a party primary ahead of the 2012 presidential election..
Having backed his friend and ally Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was once favored to win the nomination, Cambadelis switched his allegiance to Lille mayor Martine Aubry after the Strauss-Kahn was forced to drop out of the race after a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault. Criminal charges were later dropped.
The choice ruled out any post in Hollande's government. Cambadelis gained clout within the Socialist Party in the 1980s when he helped former President Francois Mitterrand seek re-election, later growing close to former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
But his rise through the ranks was halted in 2006 when Cambadelis was found guilty along with several other Socialists of having used a student mutual fund for personal aggrandizement to the tune of 94,000 euros and given a suspended jail sentence and a 20,000 euro fine. In 2000, he had again been found guilty of siphoning off 67,000 euros from a company providing hostel services to immigrants, and was then given a suspended sentence and a 15,000 euro fine.
His family hails from Mytilene, and sports a list of colorful personages, including a grandfather diamond hunter gone to deepest Africa, and a bon viveur fortune hunting father dragging and then abandoning the family in Canada.
Thus Jean Cristophe was left in the care of mother Yvette from Picardy, a responsible woman that found a job with the Bank of France and remarried a Gaulist.
When he was eight he fell from a four story balcony, landing on a car roof and getting up without a scratch. He was forcibly taught to be right handed in school where they tied his left hand behind his back. He also suffered from dyslexia.
When he was twenty and a humanities student in Paris he became a member of the Troskyite Communist International taking on the nom de plum “Kostas” in memory of Greek marxist philosopher Kostas Axelos.
In 1986 he joined the Socialist Party, along with 450 former Troskyites. He was first elected to parliament in 1988. In 1990 he launched the strategy of “Strategic harassment”, through which every event of the far right wing would be met by counter-demonstrations from the left.