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Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Former Presidential Candidate For the Front de gauche, Launches His Candidacy For 2017

Éric Coquerel: "The Only Political Family Without Any Visibility Was Ours"

Translated Wednesday 17 February 2016, by Isabelle Métral

In this interview with l’Humanité, Éric Coquerel, his first supporter, explains it is high time to launch this initiative, seeing that other competitors across the political spectrum are already campaigning. A consensus is sure to build around Jean-Luc Mélanchon’s candidacy, he argues.

HUMA: The Parti de gauche (PG) announced its support to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s proposed candidacy in the 2017 presidential election a long time ago. How should we interpret this move on your part?

COQUEREL: It has three objectives. First to win as many votes as possible in the election itself, for we may well want a new constitution, but whichever way you look at it, under the Fifth Republic, the presidential election provides the only possible access to power, hence to the possibility of implementing a new policy. Jean-Luc seemed to us to be the most likely person to win a two-digit result, or even to stand in the second round [1]. The second objective, in the aftermath of the Front de gauche’s failure, due to its having remained a coalition of parties, unable to maintain, let alone capitalize on its 2012 result, was to move ahead. Nothing can change unless a new movement is founded upon a popular mobilization, like the Spanish did with Podemos, a homogeneous movement, several hundred thousand strong. We believe that a strong political move, such as a presidential campaign, can be a means to launch a movement of this kind.

HUMA: What about the likely dispersal effect if, as is probable, candidates on the Left multiply?

COQUEREL: What is clear to me right now is that the only political family that has no visibility is ours: the National Front is already campaigning, the Right has launched its primary campaigns, and the Socialists are clearing the ground for Hollande’s candidacy. Jean-Luc Mélenchon makes this proposal; it will first be validated by those citizens who recognize that it is in their interest, and I hope other organizations will join the movement. It has a unifying vocation.

HUMA: Jean-Luc Mélenchon stood in the 2012 presidential election for the Front de gauche, whose leaders and militants first heard of his candidacy this time via the TF1 TV channel. What is your message to them?

COQUEREL: We mean to meet Ensemble and the PCF (the other Front de gauche components - T’s N) pretty soon. Our message to them will be that it is necessary that all of us support this candidacy in as much as it is the key to building a strong movement, and in connection with the general election too [2]. On the morning that followed the regional elections [3] I remember that some Communist leaders said the Front de gauche was dead. I believe this was a premature conclusion. Let us build a wider movement that capitalizes on it, and keep in mind the fact that this can’t be achieved outside the 2017 presidential election. So what Jean-Luc Mélenchon is proposing is not just a candidate, but a process.

HUMA: But the problem this time is that owing to the fact that there are now three main political streams instead of two, the second round might well oppose the right and the far-right. How ever could Mélenchon’s candidacy enable us to steer clear of this trap?

COQUEREL: The Front de gauche’s last success was the 2012 presidential election, with the four million votes garnered by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Since then, the Front de gauche has never risen above 6%. Now the only proposal that has been made to us is a primary across an all-inclusive spectrum from Macron [4] to Mélenchon. That just is impossible for reasons clear to everyone. With the election now only fifteen months away, I cannot think of any candidate of a higher caliber than Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Éric Coquerel is political coordinator of the Party of the Left.

[1When no candidate has won a majority of the votes in the first round only those that came first and second are allowed to stand in the second.

[2General elections follow closely upon presidential elections.

[3In December 2015, the several types of alliances built around Front de gauche forces reaped very disappointing results and the Greens, whether on their own or not, fared no better.

[4Hollande’s rightist minister for the economy.

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