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France's far-left candidate Mélenchon campaigns as hologram

Thomas Samson, AFP | People sit near a hologram of French far-left presidential candidate for "La France insoumise", Jean-Luc Mélenchon (C) during a campaign meeting on February 5, 2017 in La Plaine Saint Denis, northern Paris.

French far-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon held simultaneous presidential campaign rallies Sunday in two cities that are nearly 500km apart – appearing in the flesh in Lyon and as a three-dimensional spectre in suburban Paris.


The communist-allied candidate made a real-life appearance in Lyon, in a move meant to goad far-right torchbearer Marine Le Pen, who spoke before a crowd of her own in the same Rhône Valley city around the same time on Sunday. Meanwhile, a virtual version of Mélenchon could be seen in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers.

“Where am I? I am in Lyon… and now in Paris,” Mélenchon declared Sunday, as he snapped his fingers and his hologram manifested in Aubervilliers, hailed by a round of applause from supporters.

Transmitted by satellite and staged by the firm Adrénaline, the image materialized with a two-second delay, according to Mélenchon’s team, at an estimated cost of 30,000 to 40,000 euros.

The candidate’s spokesman Alexis Corbière said a crowd of 12,000 had turned out to see the flesh-and-bones Mélenchon in Lyon, while another 6,000 witnessed the magic of the candidate’s virtual rally in two separate halls in Aubervilliers.

Those figures would give Mélenchon the provisional attendance lead among the series of political rallies being held this weekend by major candidates for France’s spring presidential elections, with centrist independent Emmanuel Macron having drawn upwards of 10,000 supporters Saturday in Lyon and National Front chief Le Pen expected to draw a similar number on Sunday. Recent polling data indicates Macron and Le Pen are the favourites to advance to the presidential run-off contest in May, after a first-round ballot in late April.

The head of the "La France insoumise" movement (roughly translated as “Rebellious France”) is a former Socialist cabinet minister who quit the party to strike off on his own. He describes his candidacy as one of “humanism, solidarity and cooperation rather than competition and universalism,” and in opposition to the “communitarianism” he ascribes to Le Pen and the “indifference to others incarnated by Mr Macron’s liberalism.”

Tech fan Mélenchon says the hologram should be an “occasion to discover what everyone knows: That when the human spirit invents, when no conditions of skin colour, religion or gender are placed upon it, well, the imagination unleashes itself and shares knowledge.”


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