April 13. 2024. 7:01

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When the French left plays with fire

As the French National Assembly debates pension reform, a section of the left has launched a radical and sometimes violent battle that risks undermining their cause.

The left-wing coalition is waging a merciless opposition to the government on its pension reform, which it denounces as unfair. But the radical left-wing movement, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (LFI), stands out for the violence with which it confronts the executive.

Last Monday, an MP called the Minister of Labour a “murderer”, provoking the indignation of his allies, who said they were “shocked, humiliated and hurt”. A few days earlier, another LFI MP posed (smiling) on Twitter, crushing with his foot a balloon with the effigy of the same minister – wearing his tricolour scarf which symbolises the fact that he represents the nation.

Here too, criticism poured in, also from his allies, who did not all appreciate the allusion to beheading at a time of social upheaval. He was after that sanctioned and excluded from the Assembly for 15 days.

In another register, the same party is engaged in a massive parliamentary filibuster, having tabled 13,000 of the 20,000 amendments on the reform bill alone.

The main problem with these attitudes is that, while the political battle being waged is legitimate, and is even welcome according to a majority of the French, the method used amounts to playing with fire.

Public opinion rejects such behaviour, and the far right led by Marine Le Pen appears to be disciplined and regularly gives lessons in good behaviour to its colleagues on the radical left. Perhaps, this attitude will allow the left to rise to the rank of primary opponent to Macron.

But the backlash can also be violent: the left risks getting bogged down in its radicalism and being increasingly rejected by the French, thus rolling out a red carpet to the far right in its path to power, while it is supposed to be its first adversary.

(Davide Basso | EURACTIV France)