Mélenchon’s populism: marketing solidarité

What a wonderful moment for students of the French Revolution! A full-fledged re-enactment of 1789 is unfolding on the streets of Paris, thanks to the populist campaign of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Today’s article by Raphaëlle Besse Desmoulières in Le Monde provides a excellent summary of Mélenchon’s clever recycling of revolutionary rhetoric. “Take back the power” (“Prenez le pouvoir”), his campaign intones, “Make way for the people” (“place au peuple”). Exploiting the unease (morosité) of the current situation in France, Mélenchon is gambling on the notion of a radical break with business-as-usual. These are fighting words! Is the government of the Fifth Republic really analogous with the absolutist Bourbon monarchy? Or is the Front de Gauche merely exploiting the French sympathy for populist sloganeering, such one might find on an advertisement for an insurance company?

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