Former French president François Hollande announced on Saturday his candidacy for the legislative elections in Corrèze under the banner of the Nouveau Front Populaire, while a crisis has erupted within La France Insoumise (LFI) over nomination disputes.

Former French President François Hollande is standing as a candidate for the legislative elections in Corrèze under the banner of the New Popular Front, making his return to political life, AFP learned on Saturday from his entourage.

The former Socialist MP for Corrèze and ex-mayor of Tulle will be a candidate “in the first constituency” of the department, he said, confirming a report in La Montagne. He is expected to speak later today.

On Thursday evening, the former head of state (2012-2017), who is hated by part of the radical left and has a frosty relationship with the PS’s first secretary Olivier Faure, said he was “in favor” of uniting the left under the banner of the New Popular Front to block the far right.

In the second round, he called for support for the candidates best placed to “avoid the far right”, even if they were “LR” or part of the presidential “majority”, defending a “principle of withdrawal” by the left if necessary.

His candidacy comes as a surprise. According to a Socialist executive, Bernard Combes, mayor of Tulle and friend of François Hollande, had been nominated.

Aged 69, the former president was MP for Corrèze from 1988 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2012.

A crushing blow

Also on the left, LFI suffered a major blow following its decision not to reinvest several figures opposed to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, thus setting the New Popular Front on fire.

Ecologist leader Marine Tondelier, “extremely shocked”, denounced “a purge” and called a meeting of the EELV party leadership.

Olivier Faure, First Secretary of the French Socialist Party (PS), accused La France Insoumise of “sullying” the Nouveau Front Populaire with “irresponsible decisions” and attempted to “settle the scandalous eviction”.

The causes of the rumblings are twofold: a close associate of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Adrien Quatennens, an outgoing deputy from the Nord region who was sentenced in 2022 to four months’ suspended imprisonment for domestic violence, was reinvested on Friday evening by the radical-left formation.

On the other hand, Danielle Simonnet, elected in Paris, as well as Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbière, deputies from Seine-Saint-Denis, opposed to the tribune’s line, were abruptly dismissed and replaced by other candidates unknown to the general public.

“An emancipatory political party doesn’t work like a private company where the boss fires you because he can no longer supervise you,” Alexis Corbière thundered on franceinfo on Saturday, accusing Jean-Luc Mélenchon of “settling scores” with his former close allies.

“We didn’t decide this in an authoritarian way, we got feedback from activists and we now have candidacies from figures who embody the Popular Front,” a person close to the LFI founder defended himself to AFP.

But one question is on everyone’s mind: don’t the divisions within LFI risk weakening the New Popular Front, two weeks before the first round?

“The ‘purgés’ must be supported. And the agreement must stand, the program must be defended. The campaign must be conducted,” said François Ruffin, another frondeur, on X.

But “you’d have to be crazy to think that such methods won’t have an influence on mobilization”, lamented Alexis Corbière.

Unified line

Raquel Garrido, Danielle Simonnet and Alexis Corbière explained that they would maintain their candidacy for the legislative elections, even without the New Popular Front label.

This mathematically points to a division of votes, even if their constituencies, which are rather popular, seem to be promised to the left, with or without the LFI logo.

“These people were not planning to be in our parliamentary group after the election,” accuses the man close to Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Their eviction “won’t interfere with the launch of the Popular Front, we’re just talking about people”, assures the same source.

Two other outgoing deputies, Hendrik Davi (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Frédéric Mathieu (Ille-et-Vilaine), are also not on La France insoumise’s list of candidates for the June 30 and July 7 elections.

In the eyes of the leadership, these five elected representatives are guilty of having denounced the lack of democracy within the movement and, according to Mr. Corbière, of having “carried a more unified line”, at a time when divisions were steadily growing between the various left-wing formations.

Their ousting therefore seems paradoxical at a time when unity has just been achieved with the creation of the New Popular Front.

“No leash, no muzzle”

“The far right is knocking on the door of power. And what do they do? They divide. They purge outgoing candidates, for no other reason than they have free speech, without leash or muzzle,” François Ruffin also denounced on Saturday.

More discreet in the media than others in his denunciation of the Insoumise machine, the Somme MP seemed to act on his break with LFI as early as Friday evening.

In fact, he was invested as “spokesman for Picardie Debout”, his micro-party, and lined up with open-minded candidates like Philippe Poutou.

Clémentine Autain, another slinger in conflict with the Insoumise leadership, accused the latter of “creating disgust with politics”.

Apart from those concerned, there was little reaction from Insoumis elected representatives following the announcement of the nominations.

Jérémy Marot, with AFP