Macron’s Far-Left Nemesis Melenchon Enters Campaign for 2022

France’s far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon is ready to run for president again.

The 69-year-old head of La France Insoumise, or France Unbowed, said he’ll stand as a candidate in the spring of 2022, if 150,000 sign a petition to back him.

“A light needs to be lit so that people can say there is an end to the tunnel, and we can do things differently,” Melenchon said in an interview on TF1 television. “My intention is to help free people’s minds and once more look to the future.”

Melenchon, who made unsuccessful runs in 2012 and 2017, is preparing to kick off his campaign with France in lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic and as President Emmanuel Macron launches a crackdown on radical Islam.

Seeking to capitalize on criticism of Macron’s handling of both those crises, he said the government lacked preparation for the second wave of the virus and called for less discussion about religion.

“I want us to start talking again living conditions, ecosystems, people’s dignity,” Melenchon said.

In the first round of the 2017 election, Melenchon finished fourth with 19.6% of votes. Some supporters lamented his failure to unite with the Socialist party, which could have put a left bloc ahead of Macron.

It remains to be seen if such a coalition could be possible in 2022 with the Socialists still in tatters after Macron betrayed his former boss and ex-President Francois Hollande by running. Melenchon also faces increased competition for votes from the Greens, which captured a string of large cities during the municipal elections in June.

“I’m not saying I’m a friendly figure for everyone. But for millions of brave, simple people, it is the case and I call on them to unite,” Melenchon said.

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