Leftist Who Uses Holograms Rising Sharply in French Polls
Surprising ascent of Jean-Luc Melenchon in presidential race is rattling France
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2017 10:51 AM CDT
In this April 9, 2017, file photo, French hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon speaks in Marseille.   (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

(Newser) – Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and independent Emmanuel Macron have been drawing the lion's share of attention as the French presidential election nears (the first round is April 23), but a leftist candidate who has used a hologram of himself to stump at campaign rallies is now gaining some traction. In what the Washington Post calls a "truly unprecedented campaign," Jean-Luc Melenchon has seemingly emerged out of thin air as the Unbowed France candidate, with added support from the French Communist Party—and he "gives shivers to banks, businesspeople, and the bourgeoisie," per the New York Times. Melenchon, once considered a fringe candidate no one really paid mind to, is running on an anti-capitalism platform, with a mission to dismantle the monarchy-styled governmental system implemented by Charles de Gaulle in the late '50s.

Melenchon is now ahead of mainstream conservative Francois Fillon in the polls and only a couple of points behind Macron and Le Pen. He's been speaking to the younger set with videos on YouTube and a video game in which players go after bankers and the head of the IMF. What makes this year's election in France notable is that the slightly left-leaning Socialists and slightly right-leaning Republicans aren't the ones duking it out for the country's top seat. And the showdown between Le Pen and Melenchon, whom the Times says is sometimes depicted as a "French Bernie Sanders," even sounds strikingly like the one witnessed between Sanders and Donald Trump, with both candidates vying for voters who want to decimate the status quo, though with different tactics: Le Pen is tapping into nationalism, while Melenchon is pushing help for the poor. (Facebook is going after false accounts before the election.)

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