Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left party La France Insoumise, who came third in the first round of the presidential elections on April 10 with 22% of the vote, has called on people in France to “elect him as prime minister”.
The legislative elections are set to take place this coming June 12 and 19, less than two months after the second round of presidential elections on April 24.
Speaking on BFMTV, Mr Mélenchon said: “I ask the French to elect me as prime minister. I ask them, in order to elect me, to elect a majority of MPs from La France Insoumise, and of the Union populaire (Attempt to join together all left-sided political parties in France).
“And I call on all those who want to join together with the Union populaire, that is to say the main gist of its programme, to join us in fighting this great battle.”
The French constitution states that the president names the prime minister. But when the president does not hold a majority in the National Assembly, he has typically chosen a prime minister from the new majority. This was the case with François Mitterrand in 1986 and Jacques Chirac in 1997.
Mr Mélenchon, 70, had previously said that he had “no rancour” towards the other left-wing candidates who did not join his cause during the presidential election campaigns, but called on the public to join together now and in future elections
The long-time politician, who was voted MP for Marseille in 2017, did not say if he intended to run as an MP again, but said that “it is not necessary to be an MP to be prime minister”. He then promised that if he were to become PM, he would “sign a decree to freeze prices”.
He referred to the June elections as “a third round” of voting, and urged members of the public to join his cause.
Asked whether he wanted to be prime minister under President Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen, he refused to answer the question.
He said: “I don’t want to be the prime minister of just anyone. I want to be the prime minister that the French people have chosen, as they elect a majority to apply my programme.”
Mr Mélenchon is among candidates to have urged the public to join together to block Ms Le Pen from power, even as he remains critical of Mr Macron.
Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen are set to go head to head for the second time (as also happened in 2017), in the final presidential election round on Sunday, April 24.
The candidates will also face each other tonight (Wednesday, April 20) in a two-hour televised debate starting at 21:00. The debate will be co-produced by France 2 and TF1, but will also be available to watch on LCI and FranceInfo channel 27.