Open main menu

François Ruffin

François Ruffin (born 18 October 1975) is a French journalist, politician, and social activist. He is the founder and editor of the satirical quarterly Fakir and the director of the film Merci patron!. He played an instrumental role in the formation of the Nuit debout movement in France. He is a member of the National Assembly of France since 2017, representing Somme.[1]

François Ruffin
François Ruffin répondant à un journaliste à Longueau.jpg
François Ruffin in 2017
Member of the French National Assembly for Somme's 1st constituency
Assumed office
21 June 2017
Preceded byPascale Boistard
(Pascal Demarthe, alternate)
Personal details
Born (1975-10-18) 18 October 1975 (age 43)
Calais, France
Political partyPicardie Debout
OccupationJournalist, film director


Life and careerEdit

Ruffin was born in Calais on 18 October 1975, and grew up in Amiens.[2] His father worked for the French vegetable processing company Bonduelle and his mother was a housewife.[2] In 1999 Ruffin founded the newspaper, Fakir, and the following year he entered journalism school at the Centre de formation des journalistes in Paris.[3] In 2003 he published a book, Les Petits Soldats du journalisme, in which he drew on his experiences at journalism school.[2] He was critical of the method by which journalists are trained, arguing that it leaves no room for political engagement or for critical opposition to capitalism.[3]

Ruffin's investigative journalism work has focused on the behaviour of multinational companies. He has developed a technique for questioning the CEO's of these companies. He buys shares in the company and then attends the shareholders' annual general meeting, this being often the only way a journalist is able to make contact with the CEO.[3] He has published his work in Le Monde diplomatique as well as in the pages of Fakir; he has also reported for the France Inter radio programme Là-bas si j'y suis.[2]

Merci patron! and Nuit deboutEdit

The documentary film Merci patron!, released nationally in France in February 2016, which Ruffin directed, is a product of his earlier journalism work. In the film, Ruffin takes on the case of Jocelyn and Serge Klur, both textile workers who have been made redundant, the factory where they worked having been relocated to Poland.[4] The factory had been run by a company owned by Bernard Arnault, France's richest man. The film follows Ruffin's efforts to force Arnault to pay back the Klurs for "ruining their lives".[5] Before making the film, Ruffin had been investigating Arnault's business affairs for several years,[3] and he met the Klurs in the course of his investigations.[4] Economist Frédéric Lordon described Merci patron! as a direct action film.[6] Ruffin has said he was inspired by the American filmmaker Michael Moore and subsequently nicknamed as such.[4] The film received positive reviews in the French press[4] and was a box office success, initially receiving attention almost entirely by word of mouth.[5]

The Nuit debout movement arose as a result of events surrounding the film. In a piece written for Le Monde diplomatique, Frédéric Lordon described the film as a clarion call for a potential mass uprising.[6] In response to this piece, and recognising the enthusiastic public response to advanced screenings of the film, Ruffin organised a meeting in Paris on 23 February 2016 to discuss future political actions.[7] He has said that the aim of the meeting was to bring together a number of disparate protest groups, including people protesting against a proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, factory workers protesting against the Goodyear tire company, and teachers protesting against education reforms.[7] A retired delivery driver who attended the meeting was quoted as saying, "There were about 300 or 400 of us at a public meeting in February and we were wondering how can we really scare the government?. We had an idea: at the next big street protest, we simply wouldn’t go home."[8] As a result of the meeting, an occupation was arranged for Paris's Place de la République, to take place on the evening of 31 March 2016, under the name Nuit debout, following scheduled street protests earlier in the day against the government's proposed labour reforms.[9] In the days following this event, protests continued, spreading to other cities throughout France and into neighbouring countries in Europe.[8][10]

Member of the French National AssemblyEdit

François Ruffin became, in June 2017, a Member of French National Assembly by winning the following 2017 French legislative election (55,97% in the second round) in the (Somme's 1st constituency), against En Marche! candidate Nicolas Dumont.[11]

Picardie Debout
LeaderFrançois Ruffin
Founded1 February 2017
Headquarters195 rue Léon Dupontreué 80000 Amiens
Left-wing populism
Grassroots democracy
Political positionLeft-wing to far-left
International affiliationNone
Colours     Crimson red
National Assembly
1 / 577
0 / 348
European Parliament
0 / 74
Presidency of Regional Councils
0 / 17
Presidency of Departmental Councils
0 / 101


  1. ^ "M. François Ruffin". National Assembly. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Demonpion, Denis (6 March 2016). "10 choses à savoir sur François Ruffin, l'auteur de "Merci Patron !"". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Durupt, Frantz (24 February 2016). "Qui est François Ruffin, le réalisateur de "Merci Patron !" ?". Libération (in French). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Couston, Jérémie (27 February 2016). "François Ruffin, les patrons ne lui disent pas merci". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Doc about workers' revenge on France's richest man becomes smash hit". France 24. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b Lordon, Frédéric (February 2016). "Un film d'action directe". Le Monde diplomatique (in French): 28.
  7. ^ a b Blottière, Mathilde (6 April 2016). "François Ruffin : "Nuit Debout n'est pas un mouvement spontané, il a fallu l'organiser"". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. ^ a b Chrisafis, Angelique (8 April 2016). "Nuit debout protesters occupy French cities in revolutionary call for change". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  9. ^ Besse Desmoulières, Raphaëlle (6 April 2016). "Nuit debout, histoire d'un ovni politique". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  10. ^ Grodira, Fermín (8 April 2016). "La Nuit Debout se expande a Europa". Público (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Élection législative 2017: Somme - 1re circonscription" (in French).

External linksEdit