1 He’s got a lot of political experience – Despite his preferred image as an ‘outsider’ Mélenchon has among the most experience of all the candidates in terms of the number of roles he has performed – he’s been a local and regional councillor, an MP, government minster, a Senator and an MEP since he won his first election in 1983.
He had his first presidential run in 2012 then formed his own political party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) in February 2016 and ran in the 2017 election – finishing 4th with 19 percent of the vote. This time he is again running as the LFI candidate.
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2 He was born in Tangiers – Morocco was at that time was a French colony and Mélenchon’s parents worked as a teacher and postmaster in the Tangiers international zone, before moving to France when Jean-Luc was 11.
3 He’s got a temper – in 2018 he was placed under police investigator for shoving a prosecutor who was supervising a raid on Mélenchon’s offices. The party was at the time under investigation in relation to political funding.
Raiding the homes and offices of politicians who are under investigation is common practice in France – it aims to ensure they don’t destroy documents – and Mélenchon said he did not object to the raid, but to the manner of the officers who carried it out.
He blamed his “Mediterranean” origin for his tendency to lose his temper and said there was “no need to make a big deal of it”.
4 He can be in two places at one – OK not really, that’s impossible, but during his 2017 election campaign he made good use of holograms which enabled him to appear before his supporters simultaneously at rallies in Paris and Lyon.
5 He’s a controversial figure – he has repeatedly been accused of anti-Semitism and has also been accused of spreading conspiracy theories. He’s on record as saying that the former leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, should not have apologised for anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
His long-standing policy of bringing France out of Nato has also raised question in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He’s also no fan of much of the media, lashing out at individual journalists as ‘fascists’, ‘spies’ or ‘CIA agents’ (he’s never levelled any of those accusations at The Local, but it’s highly possible that he’s not a reader).
He is a fan of immigrants though, saying “Today as yesterday, I am delighted that France is a mix of races and all the children are our children.”