“Mélenchon’s rise means that with up to a third of voters undecided, no two opinion polls entirely alike and margins of error to account for, it is impossible to say with certainty who of the front four will go head-to-head in the second round,” observes the Guardian.
The Irish Times further notes: “At present, Mélenchon is the only candidate with momentum, which raises the possibility he could reach the second round on May 7th.“
Mélenchon first made headlines when he ran for president in 2012 on an anti-austerity platform. As Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote at the time, Mélenchon “seems to be the only one in the race that understands the real economic choices faced by France and the eurozone. France does not need austerity.”
Mélenchon’s loss in that election was partly blamed by pundits on his staunch pro-immigrant stance, which was brought to the forefront when he told North African immigrants at a 2012 rally that the French “open their arms to you.”
Today, Mélenchon remains undaunted as the strongest proponent of a welcoming immigration policy. On Tuesday, he drew a crowd of 70,000 to a campaign rally at the Port of Marseilles, where he called for a minute’s silence for the migrants who have died at sea. Extending an olive branch to the crowd, he described himself as the candidate of peace.
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