The chief spokesman for French President Emmanuel Macron’s Government has mocked one of the country’s most high-profile left-wing leaders, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, comparing him to an “annoying uncle” who does not get invited to family events as he speaks nonsense.
Spokesman Olivier Véran made the comments, reported by online news portal Politique, after Mélenchon publicly accused French journalist Ruth Elkrief of being “manipulative” in her account of a recent stabbing in the country thought to be linked to Islamic terrorism.
The accusation has prompted the French Government to give Elkrief police protection.
Speaking on December 4, Véran described the left-winger’s target as being a “very great journalist” whom Mélenchon was trying to smear as a “fanatic”.
“In recent months, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explained to us that the bosses are bastards, that the police kill and that now the journalists are fanatics,” he said.
Véran added that Mélenchon should no longer be thought of as someone faithful to the ideals of the French Republic and that the public must now consider whether or not he should be listened to at all.
“I think that at some point we have to ask ourselves the question of the place that Jean-Luc Mélenchon occupies and [what place] he should occupy in the public debate,” the spokesman said.
“In French life he is like … this very annoying uncle that we no longer want to invite to family meals because he talks absolute nonsense,” he added.
"What we have built is already destroyed!" — former left-wing French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon claims the NUPES electoral alliance, aimed in part at combating the rising far-right, is "dead". https://t.co/60NSupOiM2
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) December 1, 2023
Mélenchon’s latest comments about the journalist also outraged the network Elkrief works for.
Writing online, the broadcaster TF1 said it “strongly deplores” the “odious invectives and inappropriate insinuations” against her.
French interior minister Gérald Darmanin also lashed out at Mélenchon, labelling his comments “irresponsible” and claiming they have put Elkrief’s life in danger.
The backlash is the latest tough issue facing Mélenchon whose NUPES political alliance appears to have collapsed over the past few weeks amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
Following the Hamas terror attacks on October 7, Mélenchon and his La France Insoumise party took a rigidly pro-Palestine stance, prompting more moderate members of the NUPES alliance to leave.
According to Mélenchon, NUPES now appears to be dead in the water and will likely not put forward a joint electoral list for next year’s European elections.
Mélenchon told a crowd gathered at a conference in Brussels this week that an electoral solution to current environmental issues is “no longer possible”. https://t.co/PYuZCS57oJ
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 20, 2023