The hard-left leader is prepared to fight in parliament or on wall street. And attacking Macron on workers privileges is first on the agenda

Entering the French lower house of parliament as an MP for the first time last week, Jean-Luc Mlenchon pointed to the European pennant planted next to the French tricolor, turned to the camera tracking him and said: Do we have to put up with that?

Earlier he stood on the steps of the Assemble Nationale, alongside the other 16 newly elected MPs from his hard-left defendant La France Insoumise( France Unbowed ), created a clenched fist and wailed Resistance.

Mlenchon proclaimed they were there as opponent MPs in the service of the person or persons. He had begun as he means to go on for the next five years going head-to-head with chairwoman Emmanuel Macrons La Rpublique en Marche( La REM) majority government.

It is a battle that will be fought in parliament and as Mlenchon has made it clear out on wall street if necessary.

Macron, a former investment banker who is deeply pro-Europe, is seeking to loosen Frances complex labour lawsto allow companies to hire and volley more easily, negotiate working hours and compensations with employees and not the unions, and cap unjustified dismissal pay-outs. Frances youngest president is planning to use ordinances a process to push through legislation swiftly by act which French organizations will bitterly contest as sweeping away social dialogue and consultation. He has also pledged to cut public spending by 60 bn and lay off 120,000 public-sector proletarians. Mlenchon has promised not a single franchise on workers privileges without a fight.

His party has only 17 seats out of a total of 577 in the National parliaments but is at least a unified resist, which is more than can be said for national elections runners-up, the conservative Rpublicains, which won 112 constituencies but is currently snapping itself apart, or the Socialist party, which is also catastrophically riven and now has just 29 sits compared with 295 in 2012. Macrons REM has 308 benches and his allied Democratic Movement, MoDem, defendant has 42.

Mlenchon
Mlenchon gearing up for the second round of parliamentary elections earlier this month. Image: Claude Paris/ AP

Even so, the political scientist Dominique Reyni, administrator of the progressive centre-right thinktank Fondapol, said he doubted everything would go the path Macron wanted once the electoral honeymoon age was over. He will face opponent. If not in parliament then outside, on the street, Reyni said.

Bruno Jeanbart, deputy managing director of the pollsters OpinionWay, had already reminded even before Macrons prevail: Where is the opponent? If it doesnt happen in parliament, it will happen in wall street, in the press.

Their forewarns were echoed the coming week by Luc Rouban, a political scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, who described the political situation in France as potentially explosive. Rouban said FI could put up a bit fight but opponent is likely to express itself outside parliament.

Even before he took up his seat in the Assemble Nationale, Mlenchon was attaining headlines. Pertaining to one of Macrons more flamboyant new and inexperienced MPs, the prizewinning mathematician Cdric Villani, as the maths guy, he lent: Ill explain to him what the labour act am talking about and hell be astonished. Hes no hypothesi whats in it! He doesnt realise the eight-hour working days was the result of 100 years of engagement. Villani responded in good humour. Dear Jean-Luc Mlenchon, he tweeted. As chairman of IHP[ a mathematical study centre ], Ive encountered design contracts. But its always a pleasure to have a private assignment!

Rouban like to remind you that Mlenchon and the far-right Front National governor Marine Le Pen, who was also elected to the French parliament for the first time with seven other FN MPs, could become the cheerleaders for a social challenge, a strong theme for the presidential election. The statu was prepared even more erratic, he said, because the opposition parties had little real power. And the decider would be whether “what theyre saying” carries any weight with public opinion or whether there is a pattern of apathy among the working classes and of perseverance among the upper classes.

Pierre Gattaz, head of the French business leaders organisation Medef, rejected the idea of Mlenchon resulting all types of believable opposition to Macron. He said Mlenchons worship of Cubas Fidel Castro and Venezuelas Hugo Chvez did him a boy whose thoughts were extremely dangerous.

He can talk. He has a great knack for oratory, but well have to see how it finishes for those who made their religion in all individuals who speaks well, but whose thoughts will lead to ruin and anguish for France, Gattaz told the Anglo-American Press Association.

We have to call a spade a spade. He has never caused a single project for creating jobs in France. Give Mr Mlenchon set up his own busines and create a few jobs and then he can say something.

Gattaz, who conceives Macrons economic reform plans do not go far enough said he was optimistic that reform would happen. If not, we will be looking at Mlenchon and Le Pen in the second round in 2022, he said.

Asked where “hes seen” opposition to Macrons economically radical curriculum coming from, Gattaz said perhaps from the streets.

The historian Jean Garrigues said opposition parties had few weapons against an absolute parliamentary majority, adding that the opponent vote against cant build much change and they had the choice of ganging up on the governmental forces by joining obliges or taking the fight to the streets. The latter simply laboured when theres push from trade unions and public opinion. Olivier Rozenberg, associate prof at SciencesPo university, said: The opponent isnt going to change laws, but there is an opportunity make their point of view discover. They pressure the majority to justify itself, which is important.

Mlenchon believes that his best ally is the record 57% bloc of French voters who, orphaned by the disintegration of the traditional left and right defendants, did not agitate to cast a vote in national elections. The chairwoman has no further legality to inflict a social takeover. I see in this abstention an vigor that’s available if we know how to use it for our fight, he said.

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