French left-wing La France Insoumise (LFI) party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon took some major decisions. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON


New French ‘Popular Front’ battles on amid infighting, exclusions


In its efforts to unite amid infighting, the French political Left and in particular, the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI), has excluded prominent figures.

Socialists (PS), The Greens (EELV), Communists and other Left and hard-left parties hope to join forces to combat both French President Emmanuel Macron and a surging National Rally (RN) with the snap general elections looming.

Yet, in their creation of the so-called New Popular Front, LFI left out prominent figures from its own side.

The party dropped MPs Raquel Garrido, Danièle Simonnet, Hendrik Davi, Frédéric Mathieu, and Alexis Corbière, apparently seen as a threat by LFI founder and de facto leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

According to the left-wing newspaper Le Monde, that “is yet another sign of the authoritarian and sectarian practices that prevail within LFI”.

“This settling of scores was the worst possible message to send at the dawn of this new union,” it commented.

While convincing the other parties that he would hold no grudges towards them over past issues, the same did not seem to hold true within LFI for Mélenchon, where several anti-establishment figures did not got a place on the list.

“All this is a purge, a political punishment that has only one person responsible: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who settles his scores,” Corbière said. “You don’t make society more democratic with such methods. Even private companies don’t act this way.”

Garrido spoke of “disgusting methods”, adding: “Shame on you Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It’s sabotage. But I will do better. We will do better.”

LFI member Adrien Quatennens, on the other hand, a close ally to Mélenchon, did make the cut. That was despite being convicted for domestic violence in 2022 and given a four-month suspended prison sentence.

Under a post on X on June 14, where LFI announced François Ruffin as a candidate for the New Popular Front in the constituency of the Somme, Ruffin reacted with scorn.

“Thank you, but: I have not asked you for any investiture, no authorisation. I have not fallen under the whims of your stupidity, your sectarianism,” he commented .

“You prefer a man who hits his wife, a perpetrator of domestic violence, to comrades who have the impudence to disagree with the great leader,” he added. “Our democracy deserves better than you.”

On June 15, Ruffin went on to write that while the European Parliament elections were hard for the Left, the positivity raised by creating the popular front had now been crushed by Mélenchon.

“After the tragedy, after the hope, came the farce. The leadership of rebellious France [LFI], far from rising to the occasion, is stooping to the worst schemes,” Ruffin wrote.

“It’s a joke. A bad prank. It must be taken as such. Draw political and human consequences. Do not lie to yourself or tell stories: you cannot, for the country, claim harmony on Earth and democracy, and for the party, rule through fear and brutality.”

The LFI’s Clémentine Autain also weighed in, stating: “The extreme-right is at the gates of power on the Left, and La France Insoumise goes and decides to fracture our movement and weaken the alliance.”

Other parties in the union are unhappy with the internal strife at LFI. Marine Tonderlier, national secretary of The Greens, said she was “very shocked” by events.

Olivier Faure, of the Socialist Party, said that the New Popular Front “does not deserve to be sullied by irresponsible decisions”. He called the dropping of certain candidates “scandalous”.

Still, the infighting will likely not stop the left-wing parties from working together.

“Faced with the danger of the far-right, no progressive should be picky. No one is too much in this fight,” Faure told Le Monde.

“The entire Left will always be at the rendezvous of the fight against the far-right.”

In a surprise move, François Hollande (PS), former President of France, declared he wanted to be a candidate for the New Popular Front.

On June 15, thousands of Left and hard-left protesters protested against the far-right across France.