Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s political strategy entails the risk of France’s exit from the EU, which is contrary to the leftist political mindset based on internationalism, French politician Benoît Hamon told EURACTIV.com in an interview.
Speaking on the sidelines of the European Forum of Progressive, Ecological and Leftist Forces in Bilbao on 11 November, Hamon lashed out against Mélenchon, as well as against President Emmanuel Macron, in the run-up to the EU elections in May, where the progressives hope to create a united front.
EURACTIV asked Hamon about his opinion on the political stance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left party La France Insoumise, which was credited with 11-14% of voting intentions at next year’s EU election in a recent poll, well above the socialist party, which stood between 6 and 7.5%.
Mélenchon was not present at the forum in Bilbao and, according to the organisers, he did not even reply to the invitation.
Many at the forum said Mélenchon’s stance is “problematic” because he is unwilling to reach compromises with his leftist EU partners.
Hamon, a former French socialist party official and current president of the Génération.s movement, said, “Jean-Luc is Jean-Luc.”
“He likes the left when the left is around him. But this is the French tradition of a providential man; it is not the tradition and the political culture of many other European countries,” Hamon explained.
“Mélenchon’s strategy entails the risk of a French exit from Europe.”
“That would mean that the Left stops thinking that cooperation is stronger than competition. That is to say, a fundamental idea of the left is abdicated, that of internationalism.”
“Such an approach means that the left is rallying around the idea of competition between nations, because after all, if we leave Europe, we will return to a form of competition, of potential conflict with our neighbours. And I find this idea totally dreadful in the first place,” he added.
“That is why – and it is hard to say that at this moment but it must be said strongly – there is only a European solution to the European crisis. There is no national solution to the European crisis,” he emphasised.
Anyone on the left who thinks there is a national solution will soon realise that this will not bring the left to power, but the extreme right, he warned. “So I have a deep, strategic disagreement with Mélenchon on this.”
Left speaks, others act
Hamon said his objective was for the Left to go from words to actions as “the others, on the far-right and the liberals, they actually act.”
“I want the Left to come out of conferences and meeting rooms and become the party of everyday life. That is to say, a political movement that offers solutions on European, national and local issues,” Hamon said.
The French politician insisted that the leftists should abandon their “safety zone” and find the solutions that already exist on the ecological transition, the issue of employment, financing of social protection and above all, democracy.
Since all progressive political forces are currently divided, a common strategy is needed, he insisted.
“Basically, what matters is to choose a strategy. And in my opinion, this strategy must rely on the choice of ecology as a means to regenerate the left,” he said.
Hamon added that strong economic growth was no longer the ticket to happiness.
“We have a high growth rate with a high rate of poverty, for example in Germany, even if they have an extremely low unemployment rate.”
Macron is an accelerator for the far-right
Asked about the French president’s role in next year’s EU elections, Hamon replied: “Macron is an accelerator for the far-right”.
He said that his “dogmatism” on the decline of public services, the support for the rich and the sacrifice of the poor make Macron the “accomplice of Salvini”.
“It is Macron who makes Salvini, it is Macron who manufactures Orban. And the real bulwark to fascism is the Left. The Left must also assume intellectually and culturally that it is the bulwark of fascism. It’s not Macron who is the bulwark to fascism. Macron is the accelerator of the seizure of power of fascism,” he insisted.