Mélenchon, third in the race for the French elections, promises to tame capitalism

PARIS, March 20 (Reuters) – Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who could still contest a spot in the crucial second round of April’s elections, vowed on Sunday to lower the retirement age, raise the minimum wage and freeze food. and fuel prices.

Melenchon, who denounces the market economy and instead advocates state intervention in the economy to distribute wealth and guarantee what he calls a dignified life for all workers, told a campaign rally in Paris that he would tax the rich harshly.

“The free market, as you see, is chaos. Another world is possible,” Melenchon told thousands of supporters in Republic Square in the French capital.

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Melenchon, who now garners about 13% in voter support polls from 9-10% in January, has moved into third place in the election race behind incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen. . Read more

The 70-year-old’s campaign received a boost this month when left-winger and feminist icon Christiane Taubira quit the race. As the traditional centre-left Socialist Party verges on irrelevance and the Greens struggle to galvanize a broad base of support, Melenchon called on undecided voters and those who might abstain to back him.

“The Socialists are a depleted force. The only one who can help us, who can save us, is Mélenchon,” said restaurant kitchen worker Rita Alves.

In his campaign manifesto, loudspeaker Melenchon, a third-time presidential candidate, pledges to control capital movements, guarantees jobs for the long-term unemployed and a minimum wage of 1,400 euros ($1,548) net per month.

He says he would also lower the retirement age from 62 to 60, unlike Macron who says it needs to be raised to 65 to balance the pension bill.

“The time has come for a collective decision, in the service of people and of whom the economy must serve, and not the other way around,” Mélenchon told the crowd.

Melenchon says he would also pull France out of NATO and block future European Union free trade deals.

Polls predicted that Macron would beat both Le Pen and Mélenchon in the April 24 run-off.

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Reporting by Yiming Woo, Michaela Cabrera and Richard Lough; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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