Questions and Implications of the French Elections

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1456 .... July 27, 2017

Questions and Implications of the French Elections:
Mélenchon, La France Insoumise, Populism

Pierre Rousset

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s presidential and legislative campaign this year was different from the previous ones. There was a huge change in the relationship to political parties in general and to his former Left Front allies in particular. It’s important to understand the reasons for this change, as well as the implications and the specific context in which it took place.

First, let’s take a quick look at who Mélenchon is. He called on voters to "get rid of" traditional politicians, successfully skirting over the fact that he himself is a rather caricatural example of such figures. He was a member of the ‘Lambertists’, a current of Trotskyist background with a symbiotic... relationship to the apparatuses of Social Democracy, the Freemasons and the Force Ouvrière trade-union confederation. In this capacity, he was sent into the Socialist Party (PS) in 1976 and built a career there. In 1983, he was elected as a municipal councillor and then to the departmental level. He became a professional politician and didn’t put down roots in any particular constituency; he moved up to the Senate, in a country where senators aren’t elected directly by universal suffrage but indirectly by other elected officials, and then was elected as a member of the European parliament on the PS party list. He was appointed to cabinet in the government of prime minister Lionel Jospin, who himself had come out of the Lambertists. Only now has he finally been elected directly to the parliament, but only after parachuting himself in to a constituency in Marseilles, the large Mediterranean port city. Lacking local roots, he was still able to lead the left-wing Gauche Socialiste current within the PS. This was a genuinely activist current that enabled him to leave the PS in 2008 and found the Left Party (PG).

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