Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a socialist politician who describes himself as anti-system and anti-elite. He calls for a “citizens’ revolution”. “Humanity” and “independence” are at the heart of his message.
He is running for President of the French Republic “outside the frame of political parties” in the name of the political movement he founded in February 2016: “La France Insoumise” or “Unsubdued France”.
His approach is organized around seven central themes: the establishment of a “6th Republic”; “Protect and Share”; “Ecological Planning”; “Leave the European Treaties”; “French Independence”; “Human Progress first” and “France at the Vanguard of Humanity”. He has conceived it as a citizen-based movement and has set up a website (“A Common Future”) where his political platform is being built through citizen contributions, public debates with various personalities, and the support of other left-wing political leaders.
He has spoken about initiating “new era of international cooperation”, stating that “the fate of humanity is in the hands of humanity. Which do you prefer? Everyone for himself or all together?”
“Given a choice between the sovereignty of the French people and the Euro, I choose sovereignty”. Jean-Luc Mélenchon describes himself as a “euro-critic”. He claims that the European Union “is in the hands of the liberals”, of an “oligarchy”.
His criticism of the European Union is focused on Merkel’s Germany and the European Union’s “austerity-budget”: “Mrs Merkel and Mr Schäuble are killing Europe”.
Together with the European United Left / Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group, of which he is a member, Mélenchon has committed to renegotiating the boundaries and structure of the European Union. However, he does not rule out a Frexit. “We shall have one watchword: exiting from the European treaties … we either change Europe or we leave it … Because there is nothing superior in a democracy to the sovereignty of the people”.
“Popular rejection [of the EU] is not the rejection of peace, it is not the rejection of the Union or of international accord. It is the rejection of a Europe for the privileged, of the European Commission’s brick wall. It is the rejection of troikas and other proconsuls who come into each and every country to organize the looting whenever the Commission decides … It is the rejection of the fact that there is no fiscal or social harmony. It is this Europe of capitalism – the Europe of the German government – that is now failing … and that will be the message I send to other European leaders: as far as France is concerned, either we change Europe or we leave it.”
Immigration and the refugee crisis
Mélenchon’s view of the refugee crisis and of immigration is somewhat ambiguous. “I have never been in favour of complete freedom to live and work where one wishes, and I am not going to start now. Would it be a good thing if 10,000 doctors were to come and live in France? Yes.” Some commentators have interpreted his position as a desire to give preference to certain kinds of immigrants.
He blames the immigration and refugees crises on the European Union. “Immigration is forced exile. This forced exile is due to the economic and military policies you continually support [in the European Parliament]”.
“Immigration in 2017 is not first and foremost economic immigration, but an immigration linked to wars. To stop immigration linked to wars, we need to end these wars.” He has not yet clearly stated his position on the reception of immigrants and refugees, as his main focus is to address their causes and origins.
“I will make an independent France. We will leave NATO and we will not participate in the full-scale war that the United States of America wants. We will not fight in Ukraine, we will not fight in Poland. On the contrary, we will make an orderly world and we will contribute to it because we, the French people, have the ability to be listened to. We have the means of defence, which need to be entirely reorganized.”
Jean-Luc Mélenchon wants France to be the leading country of a greater movement of independent countries. “Other peoples in the world aspire to carry out a non-aligned policy and I will make France the leader of these non-aligned countries – the leader of those peoples who do not want to fight in wars they have nothing to do with.”
Terrorism and Islamist extremism
To prevent terrorist attacks, Jean-Luc Mélenchon suggests that France creates a new national guard. “I am in favour of calling young French men and women to join what will be called either a National Guard or a Republican Guard.” This policy breaks with the traditional antimilitarism of the far left.
Regarding the issue of returning French ISIS combatants, Mélenchon has stated that “Whoever has served in a foreign armed force must be interrogated upon his return – whether he has served in a legal army or in a criminal group.”
Syria and the Middle East
“These are conflicts between armies, not between an army and civilians. The forces that we repeatedly and charmingly refer to as “rebels” are combatants in an army which considers itself Islamist and fires every day on the government-controlled zone of Western Aleppo … Our point of view must reflect that of the French people and France’s interests. France’s interest is peace. There is a means of achieving peace: a universal coalition to destroy Daesh. But do we really want to destroy Daesh? I note that some countries have been obliged to acknowledge that they have directly funded this army. And I make no distinction between Daesh and other groups of this sort, especially the Al-Qaeda troops deployed in Eastern Aleppo who are directly responsible for the murders and assassinations that have taken place in France.”
Mélenchon supports the two-state solution: “France must recognize the Palestinian State and must take the initiative to bring about peace between this state and Israel.”
Mélenchon’s views and positions on the environment are among the most forthright in the French political landscape. He acknowledges the environment as a global issue: “Global warming is something that is going to happen everywhere, all around us… I have a goal: 100% renewable resources. An end to the atomic age. An end to the carbon age”.
He wants to include ecology-related rights in the constitution of his proposed 6th Republic: “The purpose of proposing constitutional reform is not only to put an end to the presidential monarchy, but also to establish certain new rights – rights which will immediately become duties for everyone – including, among its founding principles, the green rule, which states that France should aim never to take from nature what it cannot give back.”