‘Anti-capitalist T-shirt guy’: Philippe Poutou an online hit in French presidential debate

‘Anti-capitalist T-shirt guy’: Philippe Poutou an online hit in French presidential debate
France’s anti-capitalist presidential candidate Philippe Poutou has become an unlikely internet hero, for his cutting assessment of two mainstream political rivals during a televised debate.

The Ford factory worker went head-to-head with political heavyweights Francois Fillon, Marine Le Pen and seven other candidates in a presidential debate on Tuesday, which he used to speak his mind and hit rivals with barbed comments.

Referring to National Front leader Le Pen and her decision to ignore a legal summons regarding allegations that she misused European Union Parliament funds, Poutou said: “The worst thing is that the National Front say they’re anti-system… [but] they protect themselves thanks to the laws of the system, thanks to parliamentary immunity and so refuse to reply to a police summons.

The New Anticapitalist Party candidate also rounded on French Republican Party candidate Francois Fillon, reminding him of how he had become embroiled in a scandal involving the misappropriation of funds. Both have denied wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Le Pen summoned over allegations of misuse of EU funds

While still very much a presidential underdog, Poutou’s choice of casual clothing and “normal job” also appears to have raised his profile online.

The moment he turned around to speak to his campaign team during the debate has been quickly turned into a viral meme, much to the delight of his party and commenters online.

READ MORE: French pres candidate Fillon placed under formal investigation over fraud accusations

Philippe Poutou was unsustainable on his stool,” his party blogged. “He did not hesitate to turn to his relatives several times to speak to them. An attitude that has greatly entertained Internet users.”