Macron? Household name in the UK. Le Pen? Well known. Mélenchon? Not so much. And yet Jean-Luc Mélenchon heads the New Popular Front alliance of left-wing parties which came second in last week’s first round of the French parliamentary elections with a 28% share of the vote. Support for the alliance is growing as rapidly as that of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (NR).

The foreign media’s fixation on the rivalry between Le Pen and Macron for the French presidency has resulted in far less scrutiny of Melenchon and his hard left France Unbowed party. He has some interesting views, and a volatile personality.

There is snobbism and temper tantrums, the latter earned him a 3-month suspended prison term in 2019. Prosecutors had authorised searches of his party offices and home over fake jobs allegation. A red faced incandescent Mélenchon was filmed pushing a police officer and bellowing at him “I am the Republic”.  You might think “LÉtatc’est moi” was a little pompous when Louis XIV allegedly said it, but Melenchon took le biscuit.