Crowds in six cities go wild in dramatic hologram rallies
Rising political star Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Tuesday beamed himself and his far-left message to a total of 35,000 people in six cities across France and in the country’s Indian Ocean territory of Réunion.
Cheering, chanting crowds gave the firebrand candidate a rock-star welcome in astonishing hologram appearances, ending with a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise.
In his last major rally before Sunday’s first-round vote in the French presidential election, Mélenchon transmitted his onstage appearance in Dijon to crowds in Montpelier, Nantes, Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand, Nancy, and Le Port on the island of Réunion.
Backed by the Communist Party, Mélenchon’s popularity has surged in recent weeks to put him in a tie with conservative François Fillon and just two percentage points behind far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.
The dramatic shift in poll numbers means that the 65-year-old political veteran now has a chance of landing a place in the May 7 presidential run-off.
“The people’s programme is about being able to live off your work with dignity, to be looked after when you’re sick and to be able to stop working when it’s time,” Mélenchon and his holograms said on Tuesday.
The super-rich are his prime target, and they have reason to fear him. “Being a billionaire does nothing for personal happiness,” Mélenchon told the people in Tuesday’s hologram rally. “It’s just an accumulation of worries, which we’d want to take away.”
Mélenchon has promised greater job protection and a 100-percent tax on personal earnings over 400,000 euros ($430,000).
Taking a page from Donald Trump’s winning playbook, Mélenchon has built up a huge Twitter following of more than a million supporters, saying he prefers to communicate via social media instead of the mainstream media, which, he insists — as Trump did — is hopelessly biased toward the status quo of the establishment.
Mélenchon pioneered the hologram approach at campaign rallies in February, the first time holograms had been used in a French presidential campaign.