France’s Mélenchon looks to magic up more leftist votes with hologram campaign rallies

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Five days before the French presidential election’s first round, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is multiplying his efforts – and, in a sense, himself – in a spectacular bid to rally hesitant lefists onside with one final high-tech rally before Sunday’s crucial vote. Mélenchon will take the stage on Tuesday night in Lille – while across the country the 70-year-old’s hologram addresses crowds in 11 other cities.

Mélenchon, running third in polls ahead of Sunday’s first round, has built momentum down the stretch, leaving a peloton of leftist rivals decisively in the distance on voter surveys in recent weeks. Pollsters have him within shouting distance (albeit quite a loud shout) of the frontrunners, incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right 2017 finalist Marine Le Pen, hoping to advance to the April 24 run-off.

Mélenchon paints himself as a “turtle sage” slowly but surely making his way to the front of this presidential race. But the oldest candidate vying for France’s top job in 2022 is arguably the contender most open to getting his message across through innovative technology.

And so the La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed” or LFI) party candidate will reprise the cutting-edge gimmick that he first put to spectacular use during his 2017 run. Mélenchon will appear live in the flesh on Tuesday night at the Grand Palais hall in Lille, northern France, while his 3D image is projected in real time onto stages in cities dotted across France: Albertville, Besançon, Le Havre, Montluçon, Metz, Narbonne, Nice, Poitiers, Pau, Trappes, and Vannes.

“We are aiming for a mesh across the territory. Jean-Luc Mélenchon or one of his holograms will be less than 250 kilometres from every French person,” boasted Bastien Lachaud, who is organising the rallies.

“It’s a technological feat that necessitates weeks of preparation,” added Lachaud, a party lawmaker who serves in the lower-house National Assembly.

Ahead of the rally, Mélenchon also launched a “pocket hologram” filter of himself on Instagram and Snapchat, allowing anyone to conjure the ambitious far-leftist wherever they like. On Twitter, some posted their personal, portable Mélenchons into their back gardens, inside a refrigerator door hovering among their sauces, alongside their pets or even at Ireland’s parliament, all with the campaign-provided hashtag #HologrammeDePoche.

The candidate, for his part, tweeted a video of himself with a mini-Mélenchon “teleported” onto his own shoulder urging supporters to go vote on April 10.

A new poll on Monday by the Ifop firm had Mélenchon at 15.5 percent ahead of the first-round vote, up from 14 percent a week ago. The survey had him trailing Le Pen (22 percent) and Macron (27.5) for a coveted place in the final duel.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

French presidential election © France 24

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