The idea of basic income seeps slowly into the French political scene. Following former prime minister Dominique De Villepin’s announcement that he will propose a citizen income to the next presidential elections, two others candidates are preparing their own proposals.

Last week, Christine Boutin, president of the Christian Democratic Party, renewed her support for a basic income, in the move of her campaign towards the next presidential elections in 2012. She said at a meeting that she supported a “basic income” for all the French from birth to replace “the hundreds of benefits to which no one understands anything”. She claims a basic income at 400 Euros for every adult while 200 Euros would be given to children. “This is not a sacrament for idleness or a poverty trap, but an asset to escape poverty,” she added. Back in 2006, Christine Boutin was the first major political figure to propose a “universal dividend.” Very inspired by Yolland Bresson’s work, she even filed a bill at the French National Assembly (which was never debated in the end).

“Key measure” of the Green Party

More encouraging news is coming to us that Europe Ecologie – Les Verts (Green Party) is currently working on its own proposal for a basic income. According to internal sources from the Party, this will be a “key measure” of their election campaign. Eva Joly, the leader of the party who will be running the election, yet made allusions that she favors a “subsistence income”, and the basic income was already in their political platform in the last elections back in 2007 and 2009. But some doubts remained among observers, still waiting for a concrete proposal in view of the next election.

Dominique de Villepin under fire

Meanwhile, Villepin’s proposal has been highly criticized by his opponent, arguing that the measure was “demagogic” or “unrealistic”. Even some of his own supporters were destabilized by the idea and left his movement. Other French basic income supporters heavily criticized the nature of the proposal. Indeed, while he suggests a high-valued citizen income of 850 Euros a month, this grant could not be drawn concurrently with other income. But Villepin keeps the line. On his blog he answers critics from President Sarkozy, arguing that “This so called ‘thing’ is no magic nor demagogy, this is simply citizenship.”

Credit picture: CC Maya-Anaïs Yataghène

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 983 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website ( More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.