French Far-left Presidential Candidate Pulls Voters in With Jobs

French Far-left presidential candidate for the 2022 election Jean-Luc Melenchon gestures as he speaks during a meeting in Nantes, western France, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon sought Sunday to reinvigorate his flagging campaign for April’s election with an “immersive and olfactory” rally, using 360-degree video and smells diffused through an exhibition hall in the western city of Nantes. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

At Sunday’s rally, far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon promised to guarantee jobs for everyone, raise the minimum wage, lower the retirement age to 60, and hike taxes on multinationals and rich households. He embraced migrants and Russia as he seeks to reinvigorate his campaign for April’s election.

His campaign platform calls for France to pull out of NATO, disobey EU rules, legalize cannabis, renationalize some businesses, block energy price rises, and spend more on fighting racial and other discrimination.

Melenchon used and unusual tactic of “immersive and olfactory” where the campaign team diffused various smells into the exhibition hall in the western city of Nantes, surrounding participants with screens and speakers.

While the videos were powerful, with ocean waves and starscapes transporting the crowd as Melenchon talked about sea pollution and the dangers of wars in space, the aromatic part was a bit of a flop. The masked crowd had trouble smelling anything at all, or identifying the scents — some described fruity or marine aromas, others reportedly smelled gasoline — or their connection to what Melenchon was saying.

Melenchon, known for having a notorious temper, refuses to form a united front with other left-wing candidates against centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who’s expected to seek re-election. He has shown little kindness for his rivals on the left stating, “We don’t need union. We need clarity and people’s mobilization,” he said. “I’m not their friend.”

While other candidates are railing against migration, Melenchon said migrants are “welcome” in France, calling immigration the “No. 1 factor” in human progress.

On top ofthat, he proudly called Russia a “partner,” even as European governments are scrambling to find ways to avert a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Many voters are undecided and the field of candidates is still shifting.

– Meriqua Whyte