Mélenchon’s bitter comeback

  • The leader of the rebels gets 21.95% of the votes and is 400,000 away from beating Marine Le Pen

  • A historic but insufficient result for the alternative left in France

The French left was about to take its revenge on April 21, 2002 on Sunday. Twenty years ago, the far-right Jean-Marie LePen unexpectedly qualified for the second round of the presidential 2002, ahead of the socialist Lionel Jospin. He was a trauma wow and a turning point in the rise of the extreme right in France. Two decades later, the left touched a sorpasso similarity through the vote of the rebellious Jean-Luc Mélenchon (ecosocialist).

The leader of the France Insumisa (partners of Podemos in France) was a mere 400,000 votes short of overtaking Marine Le Pen. Mélenchon, 70 years old, finally obtained 21.95% of the votes, according to the final results announced on Monday at noon. Without a doubt, this is a spectacular comeback for a leader who the polls predicted between 10% and 12% of the vote at the beginning of March. Benefited by a powerful effect of useful votebut also for his talent as a speaker and the work around the program of the Future in Commonthis veteran ecosocialist leader was left on the verge of the second round in his third —and probably last— presidential campaign.

“Yes, it is a disappointment, but at the same time, how can we ignore the work that has been done?” Mélenchon assured in his speech on Sunday night, after the announcement of the results estimates. “A new page of combat opens. The fight continues & rdquor ;, he added in this speech, with which he was the only one of the candidates who did not read his speech. “The younger ones will tell me that we have not achieved it. It is true, but we are not far away. Do better!& rdquor ;, he concluded with a farewell tone this former minister in the Jospin government, between 2000 and 2002.

The youth candidate and the “banlieue”

The result of the rebel represents the best obtained by a candidate to the left of the Socialists in the history of the Fifth Republic. It is necessary to go back to the 21.27% that it obtained the communist Jacques Duclos in 1969 to find similar support. After the decline in recent years of Syriza in Greece, United We Can in Spain or Die Linke in Germany —it was about to stay out of the Bundestag in September—, it represents a (very bitter) electoral success at a time when the cycle of the indignant seemed finished.

One of the keys to its rise was the support received by young people, being the most voted in the range between 18 and 34 years. Numerous influencers had asked for the vote for the rebel, who ended the campaign by making a long program through the Twitch video platform. In addition, he achieved massive support in the “banlieues”. He won nearly 50% of the vote in the Seine-Saint-Denis, one of the poorest departments (province) in France, located just north of Paris.

The left grows in the total of votes

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This insufficient comeback left an obvious bittersweet taste in the wow. “When you are a candidate for a presidential election for a political current, you are at the service of this story, it is not history that is at the service of your little ego & rdquor ;, criticized this Monday Ségolène Royal, candidate of the Socialists in the presidential elections of 2007, about the fact that none of the other five progressive hopefuls would have dropped out in the final stretch of the campaign to help Mélenchon qualify.

removed for the second consecutive time of Second round, the left can take comfort in the fact that its total support has increased compared to 2017, going from 28% to 32%. If it maintains this growth, it may play a more prominent role than expected in the next legislative elections, scheduled for June. To do this, it should overcome its divisions and friendly fire during the electoral period.

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