French politics

The new storming of La Bastille

French Front de Gauche candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, Jean-Luc Melenchon gives a speech on stage at the Bastille square, on March 18, 2012 in Paris, following a march from Nation.

100,000 people. There were 100,000 people at the Bastille (east-centre of Paris) responding to the Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s call.

The Front de Gauche (Left front, FdG) leader for the French presidential succeeded to gather a maximum of people for a march in the streets of Paris from Nation square to La Bastille, the symbolic venue of the 1789 French Revolution. This is a real display for a man who hopes to extend a pressure on François Hollande and has the wind in his snails according to the last opinion polls where he gets 10-11%, which is very exceptional for a left radical candidate.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is very well and seems to be the discovery of this campaign as François Bayrou in 2007. Everybody agrees to say he is leading an excellent campaign, manages to galvanize his troops and to create a real enthusiasm such a point some analysts no longer exclude the fact he gets the same score than Bayrou in the next opinion polls.

Mélenchon gets a talent: he is a very nice orator and a dreadful speaker, being able to electrify crowds, and looking for being the Jean Jaurès heir, the one who embodies the genuine French socialism for him.

Moreover, the man is popular and wants to embody and lead a “civic upraising”, enjoying making an address to the different peoples touched by the crisis and austerity plans as Greeks, Portuguese or Spaniards. Such a speech is appreciated and especially mobilizes in the context of financial crisis.

This new storming of La Bastille is a real display for a man who hopes to extend a pressure on François Hollande, as Die Linke on the social-democrats in Germany. A very audacious but also hazardous challenge, some people considering a Mélenchon breakthrough might penalize Hollande and favour Nicolas Sarkozy. What is more, such a breakthrough might force the socialist candidate to radicalize his speech to catch the votes in favour of Mélenchon at the first round and limit a communicating vase effect, according to some specialists.

Nonetheless, such an increasing may be enjoyable to the socialist candidate insofar as he can count on more votes in reserve. For your information, Jean-Luc Mélenchon explicitly declared he is going to back the left candidate in the best position for the run-off and a large part of the FdG potential voters already confirmed they are going to vote for François Hollande, if he is qualified for the final.

The success of the FdG demonstration is a very important moment in this presidential election, especially in a long-term. Indeed, the radical left wants to appear as the genuine and original French left, embodied by a man claiming himself as the direct heir of Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum. Nevertheless, introducing himself as a “real socialist” (or neo-communist), is Melenchon becoming the best ally of Nicolas Sarkozy who counts on his breakthrough to bother Hollande?  This is another story!