Legislatives 2nd round: Interview with Inès Bouchaut-Choisy

With the second round of legislative elections being held on Saturday, we asked the candidates a series of questions. We interviewed them separately.

Can you tell us in a few words the reasons why you decided to run for office?

I want to start off by reminding everyone the role of a MP: to make and pass bills into laws. They must be competent and participate in the debates. They also must be accountable to the population and assist elected officials in making legislative activities progress. Today, I believe that I have the necessary experience to run for office and to serve both territories.

I sat in the third chamber, the Conseil économique, social et environnemental (CESE), so I have experience in public speaking at the national level.

Why not just stay in your role at the CESE?

Because Emmanuel Macron asked me to continue in my work undertaken with him. I made a commitment to him in April 2016 at the very beginning of the movement. I worked with him on several topics related to the overseas territories: I traveled overseas with him in December. I have his ear and he listens to the people overseas especially those of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy.

It is a unique opportunity for our two islands to have an MP who is with the presidential majority.

Many people from the mainland think that the lack of experience of many LRM MPs who may be elected Saturday will slow down the National Assembly. Do you think that your lack of political experience will hinder your work?

Not at all! When I was part of the Comité Territorial du Tourisme de Saint-Barthélémy, I accompanied many politicians with whom I worked. I also want to point out that, when Daniel Gibbs was elected in 2012, he also was a first-time MP and he did what he had to do.

Jacques Hamlet, René Arnell and Marthe Ogoundélé all together won 2,053 of the votes and they are also registered to La République en Marche. Have you met them?

Since I was in Saint-Barthélemy Saturday night, I called them and sent them text messages to let them know we could meet Monday in Saint-Martin.

By attending, they took on political responsibilities and defended the values of La République en Marche. I still do not know what they will do next Saturday, but I have complete trust in the voters.

N.B.: The interview was before Marthe Ogoundélé incited voters to vote for Claire Javois and René Arnell of LRM.

Two women are running for office during the second round: what do you think?

I am proud! Emmanuel Macron insisted on gender parity and that women be part of the majority. It is true that many women joined his movement.

The fact that today there are two women in the second round will encourage the young women of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barts to get involved, be confident, and go forward.

How will you seduce the people of Saint-Martin who do not know you well? Do you think they can vote for someone from Saint-Barts?

I am not only from Saint-Barts! I spent my childhood here in Saint-Martin. I still have family living here. Everyone from Free Town and French Quarter knows me. I worked for 10 years in Saint-Martin. I helped business owners who are successful today.

I do not think we should focus on geography. It is inaccurate and a mistake. I am from an island first and foremost, before being of Saint-Martin or of Saint-Barthélemy.

We have to refocus the debates on the competence and effectiveness of the candidates. Above all, voters must decide who is the most competent for the job and to represent both regions at the National Assembly. I will defend Saint-Barts and Saint-Martin equally and I will discuss with the presidents of both Collectivités.

As I said often when I was part of the tourism committee, we must be united. We have to consider both islands together to discuss and work as a unified archipelago. We must unite our forces.

The electors voted for Les Républicains in the first round of the presidential election and last Saturday on the mainland the French mostly voted Emmanuel Macron. How will La République en Marche reverse the tide? What would be the benefit of having an LRM MP?

By voting for La République en Marche, a new dynamic will emerge. It is a new way of writing policy and of making things move forward. The benefit, I will continue to say it, is to be part of the presidential majority. If we vote for LR, we will be part of the opposition and we run the risk of having our drafts refused. We saw this when it came down to the charge compensations. It was not the president of the Collectivité who made the draft progress: it was President François Hollande who made it progress when he visited.

If you are elected MP on Saturday, what is the first thing you will work on?

For Saint-Martin, I will work on income support (RSA) because it is causing severe budgetary problems to the Collectivité and, for Saint-Barthélemy, I will work on fiscal residence because it is causing issues for young people studying abroad and retirees who receive their pension from the mainland.

But I want us to work together. It is not up to me to set priorities. They should not be “my” priorities. We have to put together the road map for the next five years. We can create our road map at the meetings that President Macron will organize soon.

In a year, we must have the priority cases done–this is Emmanuel Macron’s promise.

Estelle Gasnet
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