A far-left politician is shaking up France’s presidential race

Jean-Luc Melénchon and the populist left: the surge of support for “Unsubmissive” France.

Just over a week before the first round of French presidential elections are scheduled, the messy field of 11 contenders was jolted by a sudden surge in poll numbers for a far-left populist candidate named Jean-Luc Melénchon, whose policies are so liberal they make Bernie Sanders look like a right-winger.

A fan of Hugo Chavez, Melénchon wants to impose a 100-percent tax on those who earn above 400,000 euros — effectively a salary cap — and channel that money into public spending on things like poverty reduction and job creation. He has proposed making the famously short French work week even shorter, bringing it from 35 to 32 hours. Like many populists in Europe, he’s deeply skeptical of the European Union and international trade deals, and has even proposed taking France out of NATO and moving closer to Russia.

The 69-year-old Melénchon is a former socialist who left the party in 2008 after having served some 30 years in various ministerial positions. He now heads a new party that is far to the left of the socialists, called France Insoumise — widely translated as “France Unbowed” or “Untamed,” but perhaps more evocatively translated as “Unsubmissive France.” His supporters are called les insoumises, or the unsubmissives.

Long stuck in fifth position, and all but completely dismissed as a contender, Melénchon was polling just around 12 percent back in early March. Then, last week, he suddenly popped way up in the polls: He’s now jostling with conservative candidate Francois Fillon (who has been mired in scandal for weeks) for third place, with 19 percent of the vote.

With Emmanuel Macron, the centrist former banker, and the far-right populist Marine Le Pen both …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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