French leftist hosts hologram meeting in run-off push
The leading left-wing candidate in France's presidential election Jean-Luc Melenchon on Tuesday held a raucous final meeting that saw him beamed into a dozen French cities by hologram as he seeks to sneak into a second round run-off.
Polls predict that President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will go through to the April 24 second round after Sunday's vote but Melenchon is convinced he is close enough behind in third place to spring a surprise.
As in 2017, his far-left campaign has upstaged the Socialist Party, the traditional standard bearer of the French left, while Communists and Greens have also failed to make an impact.
The latest Elabe poll published Tuesday put Macron on 25 percent in the second round, Le Pen on 23 percent and Melenchon still snapping at their heels on 16 percent.
Repeating a tactic he used in 2017, Melenchon addressed a rally in person in the northern city of Lille while at the same time supporters in 11 other French cities heard him address them simultaneously via hologram.
"If I get to the second round, I will meet you the following Sunday (April 17) no doubt at Charlety Stadium" in Paris, he told supporters.
"And there we will gather in our thousands! To show that we are determined to change the world! Because this is what we will do if we win the election!"
In his address, Melenchon called for an end to the "presidential monarchy" that he said has been brought to "ridiculous extremes" under the presidency of Macron.
"In these three days before the end of the campaign, the France which is searching for itself, the people who are looking will say to themselves 'here is France, here is the one we want'" he said.
"I don't care if I am accused of demagoguery," said the leader of the France Unbowed (LFI) party. "It is not the fault of the poor person if they are poor, of the ill person if they are sick."
He added: "It's always rebels who help give birth to the future."
Seeking to burnish his international leftist credentials, Melenchon's campaign earlier said he had won endorsements from the former Brazilian president Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff.
In a radio interview earlier Tuesday, Melenchon hinted he could even sneak into the second round at the expense of Macron.
"Macron against Le Pen -- it's not going to happen.... "Look at the (poll) curves," he told Sud Radio.