The veteran socialist has surged in the French presidential referendums. But his politics arrive heavy-laden with unsavoury baggage that cant easily be discarded
With Frances presidential election on Sunday being so completely unpredictable, the danger of being subjected to Marine Le Pen is jolly but so is the danger of another firebrand of polarising, radical and damaging populism. It is found on the far left, with the dominance of Jean-Luc Mlenchon.
Some liberals have taken to describing the 65 -year-old former senator and former juniors Socialist administrator as the brand-new personification of a restoration of the left. That Mlenchon has managed to gain in the polls to the point of perhaps being able to reach the presidential run-off is surely no tiny stunt. But be suggested that his expedition stands for an attractive, socially thoughts and more democratic or alternative Europe is delusional.
Mlenchon is virtually a nationalist, despite his internationalist credo. And his compassions for autocratic strongmen such as Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chvez cannot be readily swept aside, as if these were just missteps in an otherwise promising pulpit. If you believe that the European project must be salvaged and improved rather than destroyed, Mlenchon really cannot be your follower. Not if you ogle closely.
To be sure, hes having a good guide. Unfamiliarity facilitates. Many outside France and within it , notably among young people have only recently discovered him. Hes managed to capitalise on some of the rage that invigorates often of their constituencies: hes apparently even embezzling referendums from Le Pen. The French are depleted by decades of high unemployment, theyre deeply distrustful of the political class, and theyre worried about an erratic international environment.
Mlenchon is a talented orator. His fiery rhetoric in pronunciations and savvy, quickfire statements in recent television debates have helped his amounts surge. One of his mottoes is degagisme , who are capable of restate as kick them out targeting the remainder of the political class. He likes to quote Maximilien Robespierre and Victor Hugo. He casts himself as a hero of the people ( les gens ), a single, homogeneous entity, targeted against the establishment. His frequent references to the revolution of 1789, to French socialist hero Jean Jaurs and to three-times prime minister Lon Blum have buoyed voters wanting for lyricism, or a dose of nostalgia. And there is no doubt that Mlenchon requires Le Pen to be defeated.
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