Veteran candidate Mélenchon battles to show he is best-placed on Left to win French presidency

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At his first major political rally ahead of next year's presidential elections, radical left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon positioned himself as a bastion of the Left against the Right and far right in France.  The veteran founder of La France Insoumise also showed at the gathering in Paris that he was able to pull together a diverse range of figures from across the left of the political spectrum. Pauline Graulle reports.

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With his fist raised, French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon waded through the crowd that was heaving with French flags and those of La France Insoumise, the radical-left party he founded. His first national political rally, held in Paris on Sunday December 5th, came a day after the right-wing Les Républicains announced their candidate for next April's presidential elections. And it took place at the same time as the far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour was staging a rally at Villepinte just north-east of the capital. In these circumstances, therefore, Mélenchon's meeting had one sole objective: to get noticed. “We need to stage a show of force, first and foremost to ourselves,” said the veteran politician at the meeting in a hall underneath La Grande Arche in the La Défense district of the city, to an audience of 3,000. Organisers said there were between 1,500 and 2,000 more people outside.