Jean-Luc Mlenchon ready to lead Frances new resistance
The hard-left leader is prepared to fight in parliament or on the streets. And tackling Macron on workers rights is first on the agenda
Entering the French lower house of parliament as an MP for the first time last week, Jean-Luc Mlenchon pointed to the European flag planted next to the French tricolor, turned to the camera tracking him and said: Do we have to put up with that?
Earlier he stood on the steps of the Assemble Nationale, alongside the other 16 newly elected MPs from his hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), raised a clenched fist and shouted Resistance.
It is a battle that will be fought in parliament and as Mlenchon has made it clear out on the streets if necessary.
Macron, a former investment banker who is deeply pro-Europe, is seeking to loosen Frances complex labour laws to allow companies to hire and fire more easily, negotiate working hours and wages with employees and not the unions, and cap unfair dismissal pay-outs. Frances youngest president is planning to use ordinances a process to push through legislation quickly by decree which French unions will bitterly contest as sweeping away social dialogue and consultation. He has also pledged to cut public spending by 60bn and lay off 120,000 public-sector workers. Mlenchon has promised not a single concession on workers rights without a fight.
His party has only 17 seats out of a total of 577 in the National Assembly but is at least a unified opposition, which is more than can be said for the general election runners-up, the conservative Rpublicains, which won 112 constituencies but is currently tearing itself apart, or the Socialist party, which is also catastrophically riven and now has just 29 seats compared with 295 in 2012. Macrons REM has 308 seats and his allied Democratic Movement, MoDem, party has 42.