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Populist Melenchon somewhat swallows the left

Populist Melenchon somewhat swallows the left

The socialists resisted the longest. In a turbulent meeting on Thursday evening, three hundred Socialist Party (PS) executives eventually voted by majority in favor of the agreement their boss Olivier Faure made with Jean-Luc Mélenchon. “A plate of lentils in exchange for some seats,” it seemed bitter to the opponents.

Because it’s all about the survival of the Socialist Party next month in the elections to the French House of Representatives, the National Assembly. The Socialists now have 31 of the 577 seats. By some accounts, without a deal with Melenchon, at most five of them threatened to stay.

Now socialists in seventy constituencies are allowed to run on behalf of the United Left, which will be called the New Union of Peoples, Social Science and All-Socialism. Thirty of them are considered promising.


But several prominent figures from François Mitterrand’s party warn that the ballot box agreement is in fact a “hostile takeover”. Melenchon left the Socialist Party in 2008 to found his hard-left party. Since then, he hopes for political revenge on his former comrades.

He believes that the results of the recent presidential elections prove the same. In 2017, Mélenchon left the PS candidate very far behind. And in the last month, he left nothing out of the progressive competition. With his 22 per cent score, it was just a hair or not to Le Pen, but Milushi had beaten Emmanuel Macron in the second round.

The Socialist Party’s candidate – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo – was humiliated, stuck at 1.7 per cent. Green party leader and communist Yves Gadot, Fabian Roussel, also underperformed.

As for Melenchon, things are clear. His move is La France Insoumise (LFI) on the left. Anyone who wants to participate is most welcome, but on their own terms. This means, for example, that the Communists should swallow their pro-nuclear stance, because the LFI is against nuclear power. Socialists, always fiercely pro-EU, must accept the Euroskeptic line. Melenchon claims that “if there are European rules that conflict with the LFI programme, we do not abide by those rules”.

Supporters of left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon demonstrate in mid-April in Lille against far-right Marie Le Pen.Bart Koetser’s photo


And there’s more that makes a merger with Mélenchon unpalatable to the “reasonable left”. For example, the LFI promises to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60. Moreover, the LFI breaks through the secular tradition of the left.

For example, in an area near Lyon, LFI nominated citizen journalist Taha Bouhafs as a candidate for parliament. Buhafs lost his credibility with anti-Semitic and racist tweets. Mélenchon is actively seeking the voice of French Muslims in more places, as evidenced by his intention to repeal a recent law against “Islamic separatism”.

According to former President François Hollande and other figures from the Socialist Party – who are considering founding a new movement – the party is losing its identity and credibility.

But in the meantime, public opinion is reacting increasingly favorably to Melenchon and his Left Union. According to a recent poll, 37 percent of voters think Melenchon is the best opposition leader. This puts him ahead of Marine Le Pen (33 percent).

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