LEFT WING French presidential candidate for the France Insoumise (Rebellious France) party Jean-Luc Mélenchon talked about climate change, feminism and the cost of living at a rally on Tuesday in a bid to persuade youth and undecided voters to vote for him in Sunday’s ballot.
However, the first round of France’s presidential election is tipped to be a repeat showdown between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen, according to pollsters.
Mélenchon took the stage on Tuesday night in Lille – while across the country the 70-year-old’s hologram addresses crowds in 11 other cities.
Running third in polls ahead of Sunday’s first round, Mélenchon, has built momentum, leaving a number of leftist rivals decisively in the distance on voter surveys in recent weeks.
Pollsters have him within shouting distance of the frontrunners, incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right 2017 finalist Marine Le Pen, hoping to advance to the April 24 run-off.
Mélenchon paints himself as a ‘turtle sage’ slowly but surely making his way to the front of this presidential race.
But the oldest candidate is arguably the contender most open to getting his message across through innovative technology.
Meanwhile, French Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel is campaigning with the slogan ‘Happy Days’.
Based on what he called a ‘social, ecological and republican pact’, Roussel’s platform for the April vote marks the Communists’ first presidential run in 15 years, after the party sat out the last two elections in favour of like-minded leftists.
‘Tonight, I am issuing a call, a call to create happy days,’ Roussel declared when he launched his campaign in January.
‘Together, let’s create a France of happy days.’
In France, ‘Happy days’ (les jours heureux) is a pointed historical reference to the sunnier times that greeted the end of World War II.
‘Macron looks right through you!’, declared Socialist Party candidate Hidalgo, calling on progressives to return to the fold.
With days to go before the first round of France’s presidential election, Anne Hidalgo is languishing at under 2 per cent in the polls.
If voter surveys bear out at the ballot box on April 10, the performance would mark a historic low for the embattled Socialist Party.
And so a distinct sense of foreboding reigned as supporters gathered on Sunday for Hidalgo’s rally in Paris, where she remains mayor, with the party already poised for a post-election reckoning.
As a sign of how far the party has tumbled, just five years after Socialist President François Hollande ceded the Élysée Palace torch to centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, the Cirque d’Hiver arena’s 2,000 seats were very slow to fill on Sunday.
A stark contrast with Macron’s rally across town the night before, with its 30,000 supporters psyched up to re-elect the incumbent.
‘We don’t have the same means,’ a Hidalgo campaign official said.
Despite the ominous polls, some of the Socialist supporters who turned up to cheer on Hidalgo on Sunday still believe their candidate could be this election’s dark horse.
To muster the troops down the home stretch of this 2022 campaign, two Socialist Party heavyweights – Lille mayor Martine Aubry, and Bernard Cazeneuve, Hollande’s former interior minister, turned out on Sunday to lend a hand.
Taking the stage in a sea of French, European and rainbow flags, sporting a blue jacket and a wide smile, Hidalgo began by paying tribute to the supporting pair of party luminaries.
Hildago declared: ‘Yes, the left that does France good is here! It is here with you, Martine, who changed lives, profoundly and lastingly, with the 35-hour work-week, with universal health coverage, with the law against exclusion.
‘You, Martine, are for me an inspiration and a guide showing us the most essential way, the way of social justice and of loyalty.’
Hidalgo then called for all hands on deck on Sunday, slamming the polls she claimed were ‘limited and biased’ and the ‘zealous pundits who scorned democratic debate’.
After addressing the war in Ukraine and calling for an end to buying Russian fuel, ‘the gas of shame’, Hidalgo launched into an attack on Macron’s record after five years in office.
‘His record speaks for itself. As for his platform, who would dare call it socially progressive? Who reduced to nothing the tax on big fortunes? He did!’ she said. ‘Who did away with the hardship criteria we put into place for pensions?’ she asked and the crowd replied: ‘He did!’
‘If you have left wing ideas, if you are concerned about social progress, about justice, about ecology, you have to know: Emmanuel Macron looks right through you!’ she continued.
Appealing to voters, she said: ‘Come back to your first family, the realistic and reasonable left, one that admits its mistakes.’
Hidalgo’s next target was far-leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former Socialist who quit to start his own party.
Hidalgo accused Mélenchon, who has come out against sending weapons to Ukraine, of indulging Russian leader Vladimir Putin. ‘For now, you’d be voting for a candidate who refused to help the Ukrainians,’ she told the crowd.
Turning to her own platform, Hidalgo laid out her key pledge: an emergency law in favour of young people that would order free everyday commutes for those under 26 and eliminate enrolment fees at all French universities.
‘In the days to come, every vote won will provide new hope for the future. Each citizen we convince will be giving social justice and climate justice a chance. So let’s not give up!’ she implored her supporters.
- From May 9 to 16, 2022, bicycle deliverers will be able to participate in professional elections, in order to appoint representatives who will defend their rights. It’s a first! said the giant French union federation, the CGT on Wednesday.
It said: ‘The CGT has been leading struggles for years, often winning, which have given rise, as in Bordeaux and Lyon, to bicycle delivery unions.
‘But today, how do the organisations of the CGT take hold of the campaign on the ground?
‘We met Caroline Audric, from the Local Union (LU) of Grenoble, who told us about their experience.’
What work do you do with bike delivery people in your LU?
‘We are relying on work carried out for several months, with bicycle delivery people in the city and its agglomeration … There would be around 1,000 of them.
‘We had to meet them regularly, so that they could spot us, then build and maintain a link. It is necessary to do a lot of field work, often in the places where they gather. We discuss their working conditions with them, and it’s a long-term commitment.
‘We are also organising public meetings, the last of which was on March 22nd.
‘And it was during one of these meetings that their demand for a place to rest appeared. We approached the town hall, which made a place available on Tuesday afternoons in the Maison d’habitants in the city centre.
‘But the battle continues, so that the platforms themselves provide a rest room for the delivery people.’
How do you make them aware of joining a union?
‘Meet them again and again. Field work is important: walking the streets, discussing, re-discussing. Highlight the battles fought and won.
‘Thanks to our regular meetings, at the Maison des habitants, we help them, support them and make union resources available to them
‘The challenge is to raise awareness of the role of the union and therefore the importance of being able to vote for representatives who will carry their demands.
‘It gets results!
‘Today, we have set up a union section, which is currently considering organising action to obtain an increase in the price of each trip.’
What are the areas of struggle on which you are working today?
‘Beyond the demands on working conditions, what concerns bike delivery people is the price of the trip, safety, health … it seems important to us to launch a campaign on issues of respect, because delivery people by bike are victims of racism from customers and restaurateurs.’
How is this campaign taken into account in your LU?
‘We have union members, young people, aware of the most precarious work. We rely, among other things, on them to carry out awareness-raising work aimed at the whole of the CGT to broaden the commitment to this campaign.
‘We present, to bicycle delivery people, why to vote, we explain the importance of representativeness and how to vote. Once again, we must insist on the importance of fieldwork: meeting them again and again.
‘Explain to them that joining a union makes it possible to organise collectively. Being together, acting together, this approach is being built.
‘In addition, Ludovic Roux, of the transport federation is an important support. He informs us and we share our experiences and advice.
‘It is a support in the actions to be carried out and it allows to make the link with the other cities.
‘The aim of this campaign is to restore solidarity between workers and increasingly precarious bicycle delivery people.’