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French far-left leader Melenchon to run for president in 2022

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of far-left opposition La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) political party and member of parliament, wearing a protective face mask, is seen after the speech of French Prime Minister Jean Castex to unveil the new government policy at the National Assembly in Paris, France, July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday he would run for president in 2022 if he received enough public support for what would be his third bid for the Elysee Palace.

Melenchon, a spearhead of the opposition against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies and a supporter of the “yellow vest” anti-government protests, won an unprecedented 19.5% in the first round of the 2017 presidential election.

“We have to turn on a light at the end of the tunnel for people, we can do things differently,” Melenchon said on television channel TF1’s evening news.

“I am ready and I offer my candidacy,” he said, adding he would do so only if 150,000 people signed up in favour in an online petition.

The left-wing firebrand, who also ran for president in 2012, has been a frequent critic of the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in France, where deaths topped 40,000 on Saturday.

A Paris suburb court handed him a suspended three-month prison term and a 8,000 euros ($9,509) fine in December 2019 for intimidating officials who were investigating him over possible funding irregularities.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Philippa Fletcher