French far-left leader steps down, but not leaving politics

Jean-Luc Mélenchon photographed on May 1, 2013 in Paris.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon photographed on May 1, 2013 in Paris. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon announced on Friday that he was stepping down as co-president of France’s Left Party (PG), but vowed to continue his political battle.


Known for his hot-blooded language that has enthralled many disenchanted with mainstream politics, the far-left leader told reporters that his decision was part of an effort to reorganise the party ahead of future elections.

“We are changing our structure in line with a new strategy,” Mélenchon told the AFP news agency. “There is no crisis or anything like that.”

Mélenchon alluded to his decision back in July in an interview where he said that he had “done his time organising the life of the party.”

Martine Billard, who shared the persidency of the party, is also reportedly stepping down.

Mélenchon helped found the PG in 2008 with an alliance of far leftists, former Communists, Trotskyists and other social dissidents after abandoning the Socialist Party for being to centrist.

“We do not want to be buried with Hollande,” Mélenchon said Friday, referring to the president’s record-low popularity and the socialist’s dismal showing in municipal and EU parliamentary polls earlier this year.

In 2012, Mélenchon, 63, ran in the first round of presidential elections but only garnered 11 percent of vote.

A disciple of the 1968 student-worker strikes in France, Mélenchon is an advocate for a Citizens’ Revolution that would change the constitution and usher in a 6th French Republic.


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