Far-left French lawmakers to boycott key speech by ‘Pharaoh-like’ Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron attends the press conference after the meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin

PARIS (Reuters) – French far-left lawmakers said on Thursday they would boycott President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to both houses of parliament in the majestic palace of Versailles next Monday, accusing him of acting like a Pharaoh.

Joint sessions of parliament, known as a Congress, are rare and take place in the sumptuous palace of France’s former kings built at Versailles outside Paris by Louis XIV to symbolize absolute power.

Macron’s aides say he intends to use the occasion to set the tone of his presidency just over a month after his election.

But leftwing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who leads the 17-strong ‘France Unbowed’ group in parliament, said the Congress showed Macron’s intent to concentrate power in his own hands.

“It is the sign of the pharaonic drift of this monarchical presidency,” Melenchon, a fierce orator known for his colorful rhetoric, told reporters.

“This meeting has no real objective other than have us listen to the president.”

Melenchon, who came fourth in the first round of the presidential election in April with 19.5 percent of the votes, also complained about his lawmakers getting no top jobs in parliamentary committees and what he said was too little time to prepare amendments on labor law decrees.

“We are rebelling and we won’t be subdued,” he said, adding: “Our only way to show our anger is … not to go to Versailles.”

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth)