France’s far-left presidential hopeful woos voters’ senses

Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon seeks to reinvigorate his flagging campaign for the April elections with an unusual rally

The unusual event in the western city of Nantes comes as France’s once-powerful left wing is deeply fractured and struggles to make its voice heard in a campaign where far-right and conservative figures have so far held back the ‘Warning.

According to his campaign platform, Melenchon wants the French government to guarantee jobs for everyone, withdraw from NATO, disobey EU rules, legalize cannabis, renationalise certain companies, block price increases. energy, raise taxes on multinationals and wealthy households and spend more on the struggle. racial and other discrimination.

He promised Sunday’s rally would be a “positive” event at a time marked by political hostility. But Melenchon – a political brandon with a notorious temper – is also divisive and refuses to form a united front with other left-wing candidates against centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to seek re-election.

For Sunday’s event, the showroom covered its walls and ceilings with screens to create the “immersive” experience, which Melenchon’s France Insoumise party says aims to “unite the spirit and meaning” and to convince leftist voters that all is not lost. .

Melenchon criticized the French government’s rules on vaccines and viruses as being too restrictive, and his campaign required no passes to enter the event but handed out masks at the entrance.

Melenchon, 70, caught the eye during the 2017 presidential race for staging a campaign rally via hologram, with his image simultaneously projected at venues across France. A similar show is scheduled for early April.

He was the most successful left-wing candidate in 2017, winning 19.6% of the vote, but only came in fourth. This time there are six left-leaning candidates vying for the April 10 first-round vote, and polls suggest none have a chance of advancing to the likely run-off of the top two voters on April 24.

Many voters are undecided and the field of candidates is still evolving. Pollsters say Macron’s biggest challengers to date are far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whom he defeated in the 2017 run-off; conservative Republican candidate Valérie Pecresse, who visited a migrant camp in Greece over the weekend to lobby to stem migration to Europe; and far-right populist pundit Eric Zemmour, who has been repeatedly convicted of hate speech.

Other candidates include socialist Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, Greens party candidate Yannick Jadot and former justice minister Christine Taubira.

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