François Ruffin during a campaign stop in the Espérance public housing complex in Abbeville on June 23, 2024.

François Ruffin, a prominent incumbent lawmaker from the radical left La France Insoumise party, called the party’s leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon an “obstacle” on Thursday, July 4, signaling the end of their political cooperation. A few hours earlier, Ruffin, who was elected to the Assemblée for the first time in 2017 with the support of LFI, had announced that he would no longer sit in the LFI group in the Assemblée if re-elected on Sunday for a third term.

“We’ve had a tough three weeks because we’ve got a ball and chain. You’ve heard it. It’s Mélenchon, Mélenchon, Mélenchon, Mélenchon as an obstacle to the vote,” Ruffin told Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding, “In areas like here, in working-class provincial areas, it is blocking [us].”

Sometimes presented as a potential successor to Mélenchon, even though he has always been highly independent within LFI, Ruffin has distanced himself from the party’s founder in recent months. He publicly distanced himself after the dissolution of the Assemblée and the ensuing “purge” of his fellow dissenters, who were not nominated to run again, despite their historic membership in the party. This was because of their criticism of LFI’s internal workings.

‘We need to move from noise and fury to quiet strength’

“We have to go and get both” abstentionists and Macron-supporting voters, said Ruffin, who trailed the far right by seven points in the first round. Representing the Nouveau Front Populaire left-wing alliance, he obtained 33.92% of the votes cast on Sunday, June 30, in the first round, while far-right Rassemblement National (RN) candidate Nathalie Ribeiro-Billet scored 40.69%. The two will face Ribeiro-Billet in the second round. The candidate from President Emmanuel Macron’s camp, Albane Branlant, withdrew in his favor on Sunday evening, calling very clearly for a block against the RN. “I make a difference between political adversaries and enemies of the republic,” she said.

Deploring a “campaign in a hurry” after Macron’s decision to dissolve the Assemblée, Ruffin also called on Thursday for LFI to be more calm in parliamentary and political debates. “I’ve been saying for two years that we need to move from noise and fury to quiet strength. We need to embody stability, confidence and reassure the French,” he stressed, adding, “It’s been not done, and as soon as there was the dissolution I said, ‘I’m not nominated by La France Insoumise.'”

“It wasn’t enough for the voters, they weren’t hearing enough, despite the deep disagreement I’ve expressed with what Mélenchon is doing. So, we’re cutting all ties, and going our own way (…) with independence,” he told AFP.

Without getting ahead of himself as to the creation of a new movement on the left, Ruffin had hoped a little earlier on French radio to create “hyphens” between “the different forces on the left” in the new Assemblée. “There are a lot of good people, there’s no doubt, among the LFI,” but, he explained, “there’s a way to do something else with Communist friends, Greens and so on.”

Ruffin, who is also the leader of the local Picardie Debout party, ruled out any participation in a grand coalition ranging from Communists to right-wing Les Républicains MPs. “I will not take part in a government that would be a heteroclite and improvised coalition,” nonsense under “Macron’s appointments,” he warned on radio station RTL.

“Politicians arouse disgust, we can see that. If we engage in schemes, maneuvers, it will be even worse,” said Ruffin. He called, “whoever the leaders are, tomorrow,” to “do the opposite of what Macron has been doing for the past two years,” that is, “govern without brutality, taking into account different opinions” and “with a form of tenderness and with a lot of dialogue.”

Le Monde with AFP

Translation of an original article published in French on; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.

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