Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of France’s left-wing La France Insoumise party, has sanctioned one of his own MPs for calling his party undemocratic.
Raquel Garrido, an MP for Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis district, has been barred from speaking on behalf of the group in parliamentary activities for four months.
This is a sanction equivalent to that imposed on Adrien Quatennens, an MP from the party who was imprisoned for four months for domestic violence.
Raquel Garrido says Mélenchon and the party have a top-down leadership style, but she will not leave La France Insoumise.
“I’m not a rebel, I’m not a dissenter, I’m an Insoumise (member) who sometimes expresses criticism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon”, she says.
“Some have theorised that you can’t change things from within. I am proof of the opposite,” she adds.
For many, the party’s decision to impose sanctions on Garrido has raised questions about its commitment to internal democracy.
Clémentine Autain, an MP from the party, expressed her “dismay at this sanction,” while another party MP, François Ruffin, questioned the obscure regulations behind the decision.
The party says the sanctions on Garrido are because of “accumulation of repeated statements and actions that harm the proper functioning of the collective.”
They were imposed after a hearing by the LFI group’s parliamentary office in the National Assembly.
Another charge accused Garrido of “diffusion of false information in the press about the group or its members.”
Garrido says she was not given specific instances of this allegation.
Several members of the parliamentary group called this a lack of transparency, with one saying “[f]or many of us, it’s not entirely clear.”
Other members questioned the wisdom of the punishment, saying it may turn Garrido into a martyr and provide her with a larger platform to air her grievances.
In a television appearance, Garrido argued there should be no “crime of lèse-majesté” in a democratic society, whether within a political party or the state.
Another prominent former party figure, Charlotte Girard, resigned from the party in 2019, having formerly been close to Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
“As long as we agree, everything is fine. But there’s no way not to disagree,” Girard wrote on Facebook.