Is Mélenchon another Chávez? Another Trump?

Probably not. He’s never tried to stage a coup d’etat in the name of the people (Chávez), and unlike Trump he does actually have some prior political experience.

But, really, “better than Chávez” or “better than Trump” are very low standards to set, and the guy just has a tawdry air around him. He’s certainly not shying away from using ethnic bigotry (against Germans) for his own personal gain. His promise to tax all income above above €400K is unrealistic (no such massive income redistribution can be successfully imposed by government fiat; it would take sustained social pressure from civil society over many years). His apparent admiration of both Castro and Chávez is both foolish and sickening (though not terribly surprising for an ex-Trotskyite).

On the latter fact, it’s important to consider that self-professed communist candidates that are freely elected have never turned out to be totalitarians, despite their delusions about those who share their political label in less free societies. Cyprus had an elected communist as head of government for a few years. On the local and regional level, parts of Italy and India have long had communist governments.

To sum up: no, he’s probably not another Hugo Chávez. He’s definitely not equivalently awful to Marie LePen. But he’s hardly the dawn of a great new era, either. Mostly, he sounds like a garden-variety faux-populist gasbag out to capitalize on popular discontent.

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