France’s main left-wing presidential candidate reappears as a hologram

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a veteran figure of the political left in France, was beamed into several cities as a hologram on Tuesday -repeating a stunt he pulled off during the 2017 presidential race.

French leftist party La France Insoumise (LFI) presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon appears on stage as an hologram.
French leftist party La France Insoumise (LFI) presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon appears on stage as an hologram. He hopes to pull off a surprise by making it to the second round of the presidential election. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

The leading left-wing candidate in France’s presidential election Jean-Luc Melenchon on Tuesday held a raucous final meeting that saw him beamed into a dozen French cities by hologram as he seeks to sneak into a second round run-off.

Polls predict that President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will go through to the April 24 second round after Sunday’s vote but Melenchon is convinced he is close enough behind in third place to spring a surprise.

As in 2017, his far-left campaign has upstaged the Socialist Party, the traditional standard bearer of the French left, while Communists and Greens have also failed to make an impact.

The latest Elabe poll published Tuesday put Macron on 25 percent in the second round, Le Pen on 23 percent and Melenchon still snapping at their heels on 16 percent.

Repeating a tactic he used in 2017, Melenchon addressed a rally in person in the northern city of Lille while at the same time supporters in 11 other French cities heard him address them simultaneously via hologram.

“If I get to the second round, I will meet you the following Sunday (April 17) no doubt at Charlety Stadium” in Paris, he told supporters.

“And there we will gather in our thousands! To show that we are determined to change the world! Because this is what we will do if we win the election!”

In his address, Melenchon called for an end to the “presidential monarchy” that he said has been brought to “ridiculous extremes” under the presidency of Macron.

“In these three days before the end of the campaign, the France which is searching for itself, the people who are looking will say to themselves ‘here is France, here is the one we want'” he said.

“I don’t care if I am accused of demagoguery,” said the leader of the France Unbowed (LFI) party. “It is not the fault of the poor person if they are poor, of the ill person if they are sick.”

He added: “It’s always rebels who help give birth to the future.”

Seeking to burnish his international leftist credentials, Melenchon’s campaign earlier said he had won endorsements from the former Brazilian president Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff.

In a radio interview earlier Tuesday, Melenchon hinted he could even sneak into the second round at the expense of Macron.

“Macron against Le Pen — it’s not going to happen…. “Look at the (poll) curves,” he told Sud Radio.

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.