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Jean-Luc Mélenchon and France Insoumise: The Manufacturing of Populism

Marlière, P; (2019) Jean-Luc Mélenchon and France Insoumise: The Manufacturing of Populism. In: Katsambekis, G and Kioupkiolis, A, (eds.) The Populist Radical Left in Europe. Routledge: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

In the run-up to the 2017 presidential election in France, Jean-Luc Mélenchon who, so far, had been associated with the radical left, formed a new movement called France Insoumise (Unbowed France - FI). Mélenchon’s populist strategy in launching FI was blatant. This was an attempt to organise the masses along the lines of an agonistic cleavage between ‘the people’ and ‘the elite’, and this was also a radical break with the collective forms of leadership and action on the French left. The gamble paid off as Mélenchon received significant support from segments of left-wing voters in the first round of the presidential election. In true populist fashion, the FI leader wants to federate ‘the people’, and not simply left-wing voters. He has ceased to use the notion of left altogether. What defines FI’s populism is the role and the centrality of the leader. One may wonder whether populism is the best strategy to broaden the left’s electorate as left-wing and right-wing populisms do not tap in the same culture and do not express the same feelings. On the left, the anger is directed at free market economics. On the far right, the hatred of foreigners and immigrants is the main motivation. Both feelings and mindsets are incompatible: the former has a positive mindset whereas the latter is based on resentment. Mélenchon’s style, strategy and politics have energised fragments of the left-wing electorate (the young and working-class voters notably) but they have also created tensions with other parties of the left. Those organisations fear that Mélenchon’s ‘populist moment’ may be detrimental to the future of left-wing politics in France altogether.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Jean-Luc Mélenchon and France Insoumise: The Manufacturing of Populism
ISBN-13: 9781138744806
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4324/9781315180823
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315180823
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053910
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