At Nupes, chef Mélenchon weakened by his own base

“Thank you to all of you who take the risk of seeing the devil so closely! » This is how Jean-Luc Mélenchon designates himself, Monday, January 16, before a studious assembly of researchers, experts and activists gathered for a meeting of his new think tank, the La Boétie Institute, devoted to pensions. Among the intellectuals, he spends moments “extraordinary”he says, forget the vicissitudes. “If I don’t write, it’s not okay”confides the septuagenarian, who is preparing a new version of his programmatic book The era of the people (Fayard, 2014). From pretender to Matignon, the former deputy who asked that he be elected prime minister at the time of the legislative elections, in June 2022, has become in a few months a figure more contested than ever, including in his own camp.

Failing to make it win, the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) that he was able to manufacture nevertheless made it possible to save the presence of the left in the National Assembly. But by defending the deputy of the North Adrien Quatennens, condemned for domestic violence, he alienated the feminists; for his former traveling companions, absent from the new direction of La France insoumise (LFI), he is the orchestrator of a quasi-purge. The devil, we tell you. As a child, Jean-Luc Mélenchon was a choirboy for a long time. Longer than Trotskyist, he promises. But he completed his conversion. When he speaks of the Marxist vulgate, he says “the catechism” Where “the Church”.

For his old friends who watch him from afar, the reorganization carried out at Christmas within LFI reminds us that Jean-Luc Mélenchon is first and foremost a Lambertist, at least by inheritance. From a chic restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, he evokes the “two or three years” past to the Internationalist Communist Organization, known for its tough methods and its taste for secrecy. “Santerre, Mélenchon, you are mixing everything up! »told him at the time the management, calling him by his militant pseudonym inspired by the brigadier general of the French Revolution, and judging him in full confusion between the party, the union, the movement.

“The real boss is Manu”

Catch-all populist, he already was. But he kept methods of Lambertism. For a long time, the leader of the radical left has thought that a “homogeneous and well-organized group” can “take power and go to the presidency”, recalls Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, a former friend of the Socialist Left, the left-wing current of the Socialist Party (PS) in the 1990s. He likes to surround himself with young, intelligent people “of which he can say he formed them”, she continues. “The party grows stronger by purifying itself” is not quite his maxim, but he willingly assumes that there is “crumpled plate” with each reorganization of its creation.

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