France’s leftist party in shock win, leader mentions Palestine recognition

A leftwing coalition has emerged as the surprise dominant force in the French parliament despite earlier predictions of a far-right triumph.

The New Popular Front (NPF), a hastily formed leftwing alliance, clinched 182 seats, positioning itself as the largest parliamentary group.

The coalition party is dominated by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, often compared to Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn, who used the win to reiterate his commitment to recognising the State of Palestine.

“We will have a prime minister from the New Popular Front,”  Mélenchon posted on X on Sunday night. “We will be able to decide many things by decree. On the international level, we will have to agree to recognize the State of Palestine.”

The NPF coalition includes Mélenchon’s radical France Unbowed party, alongside Socialist, Communist, Green, and other left-leaning groups.

People went out to celebrate in central Paris as the election results emerged. There were also some incidents that led to clashes with police.

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Together alliance secured 163 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) came third with 143 seats.

The far-right had a commanding lead in the first round but tactical voting held back their progress, preventing them from winning enough seats to form a government.

The election saw the highest turnout since 1981, estimated at 67%, which likely contributed to holding back the far-right’s progress .

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal offered his resignation following the results, but President Macron has rejected it.

Traditionally, the president names a prime minister from the largest parliamentary group, with the New Popular Front aiming to propose a candidate by week’s end.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon – “The French Jeremy Corbyn”

Mélenchon is the firebrand leader of France’s newly dominant leftwing alliance and brings a unique background and views to his position of influence.

Born in Tangier when it was an international zone, Mélenchon is the son of a post office worker and a teacher, both descendants of Spanish and Italian immigrants who settled in French Algeria at the turn of the 20th century.

The 72-year-old politician is known for his admiration of leftist Latin American leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Mélenchon has consistently challenged France’s political and economic establishment. His criticism of Israel, wealth inequality, and NATO membership sets him apart from mainstream French politicians.

His policy proposals are ambitious. He advocates heavy taxation on France’s super-wealthy, a significant increase in public spending, a boost to the minimum wage, and a reduction in the retirement age.

Mélenchon has said in the past that France is a country “with huge wealth that is badly distributed.”

Despite leading the largest group in parliament, NPF nor any other group have absolute majority. It means the future government’s composition is shrouded in uncertainty, with parliament expected to be divided into three main blocs: the left, centrists, and the far right.

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