Far-left With an unprecedented “immersive and olfactory” gathering, French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon hailed migrants and Russia while mocking campaign opponents on Sunday, hoping to resuscitate his failing campaign for April’s election.
Yes, olfactory: the marketing team employed screens and speakers to surround attendees in the Nantes show hall, which was filled with numerous odors.
While the visuals were compelling, sending the audience to ocean waves and starscapes while Melenchon spoke about water pollution and the perils of space conflicts, the fragrant section was a bit of a dud. The disguised throng had problems smelling anything, much less distinguishing the odors — some cited fruity or sea fragrances, while others claimed to smell gasoline — or determining their relevance to Melenchon’s words.
The action occurred at a time when France’s once-dominant left wing is profoundly fracturing and fighting to make its voice heard in a campaign dominated by far-right and conservative groups. Melenchon, a political firebrand known for his temper, has refused to join forces with other left-wing contenders to challenge President Emmanuel Macron, who is poised to run for re-election.
Melenchon vowed to guarantee work for everyone, boost the minimum wage, cut the retirement age to 60, and raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals during his rally on Sunday. His campaign program asks on France to leave NATO, break EU laws, legalize marijuana, renationalize some enterprises, halt energy price hikes, and devote more resources to combating racial and other forms of prejudice.
Melenchon claimed migrants are “welcome” in France, calling immigration the “No. 1 factor” in human advancement, while other contenders scream against it.
Even as European leaders scramble to find measures to stop a probable Russian invasion of Ukraine, he proudly termed Russia a “partner.”
He was also nasty to his left-wing opponents.
“We don’t need to form a union.” He stated, “We need clarity and people’s mobilization.” “I’m not one of their pals.”
Melenchon has attacked the French government’s vaccination and virus regulations as being overly tight, yet his supporters handed out masks at the gathering on Sunday.
Melenchon, 70, gained notoriety during the 2017 presidential campaign by hosting simultaneous campaign rallies via hologram. A similar performance is scheduled for early April.
In 2017, he was the best-performing left-wing contender, receiving 19.6% of the vote, however he finished fourth. This time, six left-wing candidates are contending for the first-round vote on April 10, and surveys indicate that none of them will advance to the April 24 runoff between the top two vote-getters.
Many people remain unsure, and the candidate field is still changing. According to pollsters, Macron’s strongest challengers so far are far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whom he defeated in the 2017 runoff; conservative Republicans candidate Valerie Pecresse, who visited a migrant camp in Greece this weekend to push for migration control; and populist far-right pundit Eric Zemmour, who has been convicted of hate speech on multiple occasions.
Socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Greens Party candidate Yannick Jadot, and former justice minister Christiane Taubira are among the other candidates.