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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Voilà qui serait le président Jean-Luc Mélenchon

by Cédric Clérin

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as President

Translated Wednesday 12 April 2017, by Henry Crapo

Certainly incongruous only some weeks ago, the question is beginning to be asked, "What would Jean-Luc Mélenchon do if he were to be elected to the Elysee?"

Despite attempts to make him into a dangerous extremist with dubious connections, the candidate proposes a humanist project that is attracting more and more support.

At 66 years of age, Jean-Luc Mélenchon knows he is “ready to govern”

Photo Patrick Kovarik / AFP

What if Jean-Luc Mélenchon were to be the surprise of this election?

For the candidate of “Insubmissive France”, supported by the French Communist Party, all traffic lights are green. First, the polls, which evaluate, all the while influencing, the campaign, are favorable to him. Since March 18, the date of the rally in the Place de la Republique (Paris), which attracted more than 100,000 people, followed by the successful debate, he rose in the polls from 10% to 12% and then to about 15%. Nipping at the heels of Francois Fillon, the effect of this rise could be amplified if he were to overtake the right-wing candidate, thus bringing into question the idea that Macron was the only candidate capable of beating Fillon in the first round, then Le Pen in the second. [1] The total of the left, around 25%, however remains desperately stable. The "Figaro Magazine" [2] barometer on the "ranking of the future" of politicians also recorded a breakthrough of +19 points in a month and placed Mélenchon at the top with the largest increase. Never seen before. Finally, 48% of left-wing voters now consider Mélenchon "best embodies the values ​​of the Left", against 32% for Benoît Hamon and 18% for Macron [3].

In addition to the polls, the campaign dynamics can also be measured in the rooms filled with supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (3,000 people in Châteauroux on April 2) or by the growing interest expressed on social networks. Since March 18, 100,000 more people follow the insubmissive candidate on Facebook (802,000 in total) and 38,000 on Twitter (1,045,000 in total). The candidate sees in these numbers a good omen, "a wave that is rising". History will tell if a bottom blade of this wave, such as those that carried Francois Fillon on the right and Benoît Hamon on the left, will have carried JLM to the top, or if, as in 2012, the momentum will be lost.

Finally, the possibility of a policy of equality that puts people back in the center and puts finance in its place

Still, this does not appeal to everyone. Already in January, Jean-Luc Mélenchon had devoted the entirety of his new year’s greeting to explain his vision of geopolitics. The exercise served to counteract the continuing charges of "rolling" for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. A good way to separate him from his socialist electorate. These days, the candidate is broadcasting an extract from his meeting in Rennes entitled "I have nothing to do with Mr. Putin". In the same way, a regular attempt is made [by his opponents] to compare the insubmissive candidate with Mrs Le Pen, candidate of the Front National. Are not they both in favor of retirement at age 60? Are they not both for protectionism? Don’t they both want to increase the social welfare payments?

Whether this is false, or whether it is Mademoiselle Le Pen who seeks to blur the tracks, is of little importance: one instills a suspicion of collusion. The adjective nationalist is even now regularly attached to the name of Mélenchon. Alexis Corbière, spokesman of the candidate, thunders, "He is the candidate of humanism, of universalism that brings equality between the workers of the whole world and popular sovereignty within the framework of a nation of citizens. Nothing to do with the nationalist clan of Mrs. Le Pen ".

The dynamics attract dynamism, and the mobilization is growing: 8 insubmissive caravans of the campaign “The People’s Turn” [4] will travel France until 23 April, while the French Communist Party announced 10,000 meeting points organised in support of JLM. No candidate for a long time had raised so high in public opinion the possibility of a policy of peace, of equality, one which puts the human being at the center and puts finance in its place. That does not appeal to everyone. Perhaps just one more reason for citizens to use this ballot.

[1Thanks to I.M. for her explanation of this phrase l’idée que Macron permet d’éviter Fillon au second tour. H.C.

[2Kantar for the « Figaro Magazine ».

[3Ifop for the Journal de Dimanche.

[4"Au tour du peuple"

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