Leftist Melenchon Represents the Macron Opposition
Jean-Luc Melenchon, a leftist who has fought against the French political powers for years, is gaining an anti-Macron following.
During the divisive presidential election, Melenchon experienced an increase in popularity and ultimately came in fourth place. In June, he gained a seat in the National Assembly. The leftist got media attention for then leading a group of MPs from his France Unbowed party into parliament, shouting, "Resistance!".
After President Macron and his centrist party La République en Marche dominated the final vote, the Socialists and Republicans were left divided and leaderless.
Melenchon has capitalized on the opportunity. In spite of the small size of his party, he has emerged as one of the loudest, clearest voices in opposition to Macron's policies. Melenchon especially lambastes the president's labor reforms, calling them a "social welfare coup d'état".
"We represent the alternative to the world you represent," the left-wing politician said in response to announcement of the government's new agenda.
On Saturday, Melenchon will head a large anti-government demonstration in Paris. Calling Macron the "pharaoh", he characterizes the new president and former investment banker as a dangerous fusion of Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.
Melenchon was born in Morocco. In university, he researched philosophy and participated in activism before becoming a member of the Socialist party at age 25. Melenchon was the vocational education minister for two years under Jospin the the early 2000s. In 2008, however, he left the Socialist party, citing France's need for another left-wing party.
In his first, 2012, presidential campaign, Melenchon received 11 percent of the popular vote with the Left Party. His more recent campaign with the France Unbowed party garnered 18 percent of the vote, thanks to the people's general distaste for the current political state of France as well as his charismatic debating, especially versus the far-right Marine Le Pen.
Melenchon promised to re-energize the EU with a €100,000 stimulus plan and pledged to give the masses their power back.
He also mentions frequently that he was only 600,000 votes from qualifying for the run-off stage of the election, and potentially could have won.
Now, Melenchon is appealing to the many French people who, embittered about politics, were drawn to Le Pen. He insists that they can still change sides from extreme right to left, calling them "angry but not fascists".
The leftist remains the most outspoken opponent to Macron's proposed policies.
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