French leftist figurehead Mélenchon says left ‘ready to govern’

France Unbowed’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a well-known leftist figure [SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP/Getty]

The French left is “ready to govern”, leftist figurehead Jean-Luc Mélenchon said on Sunday, after predictions showed a broad left-wing alliance could be the largest group in parliament despite previous expectations the far right would win.

“Our people have clearly rejected the worst-case scenario,” said the three-time presidential candidate of the France Unbowed (LFI) party.

Leftist parties including LFI, the Socialist Party (PS), the Greens, and the Communist Party joined forces last month to form the New Popular Front (NFP).

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal “has to go… The New Popular Front is ready to govern”, Mélenchon said.

It is unclear who might be the alliance’s top candidate to be prime minister, with Mélenchon a divisive figure even among some supporters of his own party.

Attal said he would offer his resignation to President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

But he added that, if his resignation is refused, he was ready to remain in office “as long as duty demands”, with the Paris Olympics due to begin in three weeks.

Projections based on vote samples by four major polling agencies and seen by AFP showed no group on course for an absolute majority, and the left-wing NFP ahead of both Macron and Attal’s centrist Ensemble alliance and the far-right National Rally (RN).

The left-wing group was predicted to take between 172 and 215 seats, the president’s alliance 150 to 180 and the RN – which had hoped for an absolute majority – 115 to 155, in a surprise third place.

The PS’s leader, Olivier Faure, urged “democracy” within the NFP so they could work together.

“To move forward together we need democracy within our ranks,” he said.

“No outside remarks will come and impose themselves on us,” he said in a thinly veiled criticism of Mélenchon.

Raphael Glucksmann, co-president of the smaller pro-European Place Publique party in the alliance, said everyone was going to have to “behave like adults”.

In the projections, “we’re ahead, but in a divided parliament… so people are going to have to behave like adults,” he said.

“People are going to have to talk to each other,” he said.

Macron made the gamble of calling the snap polls after the far right trounced his centrist allies in European elections.

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