French Socialist Party chief Harlem Désir (pictured right) mocked firebrand leftist Jean Luc-Melenchon (left) on Monday, asking if his critic had “chewed too many coca leafs” on a recent trip to Latin America.
The leader of France’s Socialist Party on Monday mocked left-wing critic Jean-Luc Mélenchon by asking if he had “chewed too many coca leafs” on a recent trip to Latin America, after he claimed that the country’s Socialist-ruled government had a right-wing agenda.
“He’s just trying to draw attention to himself, even if that means dividing the left… When I heard him, I asked him if he hadn't perhaps chewed one too many coca leafs during his holidays in Latin America,” Socialist Party chief Harlem Désir said of firebrand leftist Mélenchon.
Mélenchon, a former presidential candidate allied with France’s Communist Party, spent much of the summer visiting South America, where he met the left-leaning presidents of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
On his return to France, Mélenchon told the prominent weekly Journal du Dimanche (JDD) that President François Hollande, a Socialist, had turned his back on left-wing ideals and was encouraging voters to seek out the far-right National Front (FN) party.
He added that Interior Minister Manuel Valls had been “contaminated” by FN leader Marine Le Pen, in reference to the minister’s suggestion in early August that the government debate a ban on the Muslim veil in universities.
Wearing the Muslim veil is prohibited in public primary schools in France and for all state workers when they are on duty.
“The National Front’s best recruiter is François Hollande, because of the dismay and discouragement he spreads,” Mélenchon told the JDD in the interview published on Sunday.
But Désir claimed Mélenchon’s anger was misdirected. “Dividing the left will open up an avenue to Le Pen and [right-wing UMP party chief Jean-François] Copé".
France's political class is unofficially preparing for mayoral elections in March 2014 and a ballot for the European Parliament, in which both Désir and Mélenchon hold seats, in May.
Date created : 2013-08-19