Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA): 2nd National Conference.

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The psychodrama of the SWP (we still do not know what the Central Committee decided on launching a purge last Sunday) continues.

It is a relief to look at the political activity of a serious left party, the French Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).

The NPA held its 2nd National conference last weekend.

After substantial groups of NPA supporters have left the party to join the Front de gauche (FdG), they stand at 2 , 500 members (at one point a few years back, they had nearly reached 10,000). *

This is from a brief report  on the party’s site (from Agence France Presse). More information in detail begin here.

After the conference Alain Krivine said,

“”Il y a une volonté d’arriver à une recomposition et d’en finir avec les tendances”,

That there is a will to re-align inside the party, and to end the NPA’s divisions into tendencies.

This remains to be seen.

Party members had voted in advance for  the different (4) motions that were debated at the Congress.

55% backed the motion  “une orientation pour agir” which won with  51% of the vote. Sandra Demarcq, spokesperson for the tendency said that they intended to “get the NPA moving” against the present – Socialist-led – government and its politics of austerity.  To achieve that aim the NPA intended to speak to all organisations which do not support the government, including the  Front de gauche, with a view to joint action. On one issue their position, however, remains unchanged. “We are not going to fuse with the FdG, because we have important differences. But the NPA on its own won’t win” (“On ne va pas proposer de fusion avec le FG car il y a des désaccords importants, mais le NPA seul n’y arrivera pas”)

The FdG had to recognise the need for a real left-wing opposition to  Prime Minister Ayrault’s Cabinet.

The platform, “Quelle politique d’interpellation du FG“,  from the “courant révolutionnaire” won 32% of the vote. Gaël Quirante, from the tendency asked exactly how the NPA was going to approach the FdG.

On what to do for the 2014 municipal and European elections – that is, if alliances with other left groups would be possible – this was left to an enlarged ‘conseil politique national’ (national political council) to decide.

Libération has commented on the “hangover” facing the NPA , after its electoral failure, the split off by many of its tendencies, its leadership crisis and its isolation.

Le Monde cites the former NPA stalwart, and FdG supporter, Pierre-François Grond, “ “Ce congrès, c’est la confirmation de l’échec du projet fondateur du NPA”, This conference confirms the set back faced by the founding project of the NPA.

It would seem that when the largest opposition group in the NPA, the “revolutionary” current, calls for a ‘unity’ from below (“Quelle politique d’interpellation du Front de gauche ? Par en haut ou par les luttes ?”, ignoring the FdG’s ‘leaderships’. Support for this  ‘united front from below indicates that the party’s difficulties are far from over.

*Note: “A sa création en 2009, le NPA comptait 9.000 adhérents. C’était deux anaprès qu’Olivier Besancenot eut atteint 4% à l’élection présidentielle. Ilsont aujourd’hui 2.500.”

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

3 Responses

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  1. From Nathan Rao.Thanks for this report on the recent NPA congress, which is actually the third one if you include the founding congress in 2009. Your blog is one of the few places where you can follow this kind of thing in English!

    I hope you won’t mind if I add a few points:

    1. The Le Monde quotation of Pierre-François Grond, who is a spokesperson of the Gauche anticapitaliste (GA) current in the Front de Gauche, appeared before the NPA congress and so shouldn’t be taken as a judgement on the outcome of the congress. It’s worth noting that Grond was one of the key leaders of the NPA until splitting to join the FdG, so if the project has “failed” in the way he suggests, then surely he also bears significant responsibility for this. Also, while it would be nice if he took a more nuanced approach to the NPA’s pre-congress discussions, it would also be a little surprising since the GA’s very existence is premised on the NPA having failed and being on a path to nowhere. So I don’t think you can expect an entirely balanced judgement from Mr Grond. Naturally, the official GA statement to the congress criticizes the NPA’s decision to remain outside the FdG and not revisit this question in the foreseeable future; but it also welcomes the NPA majority’s position in favour of an anti-austerity government based on mass mobilization. I won’t address the issues involved in this debate, but the GA statement is now available on line at the following link:

    http://www.gauche-anticapitaliste.org/content/adresse-de-la-ga-au-congres-du-npa

    2. Speaking of web links, the NPA website now has a report on the congress and the post-congress statements of the four platforms (W, X, Y and Z) that framed the pre-congress debates. Here is the link:

    http://www.npa2009.org/content/2e-congr%C3%A8s-du-npa%E2%80%89-rebondir

    3. Divisions exist within the “revolutionary” current you mention (Platform Y), with about one-quarter disputing the dominant Y view that the NPA majority wants to make an absolute priority of orienting toward the FdG or even ultimately join it (ie. that Platform X is on the same path as the GA comrades). Also, Platform Y, which got 32% of member votes in pre-congress debates, shouldn’t be confused with Platform Z (9%) which does indeed hold what could be described as hardcore sectarian views on the FdG (and on the NPA majority for that matter). In other words, while clearly the new majority NPA orientation is somewhat fragile (56% voted for the majority orientation resolution at congress), it’s not unreasonable to be optimistic and say that a wider basis exists for common work in the party.

    4. Just a small final point that takes up something you mentioned in a previous article on Callinicos and his position on the NPA. As you can see from point 3 above, NPA (or former LCR) party congresses do not merely formalize the results of member votes in local pre-congress discussions, as Callinicos complained but also as you seemed to be confirming. There is scope for evolution of views, as there should be since delegates should be free to change their views on the basis of a congress’s sovereign all-party debates that bring to light factors not necessarily visible from one’s regional or sectoral corner within the party. In the recently concluded congress, Platform X got 51% of delegates from local pre-congress assemblies, but its orientation document got 56% of congress votes. In this case, the change is quite small, and I’m told it largely came about as a result of Platform W delegates voting in favour or recusing themselves from the vote. But the scope for bigger shifts is there.

    5. Speaking of the Callinicos piece, I would hesitate to dismiss entirely the Callinicos argument, and not because I have any particular sympathy for the SWP model or the SWP as such! Concretely, however, I think it is true that, despite all its strengths over the years, the old LCR tendency regime did contaminate the NPA from the start and acted as an obstacle to the complex process of rethinking that the NPA needed up and down party ranks, especially given the huge influx of new members from very different backgrounds in 2008-2009. The tendency regime can act to cloud over important debates and prevent members from getting a handle on them, since much of party life is often taken up by tendency leaders, first, jockeying for their tendency’s position and, second, concocting agreements with each other in view of forming a majority (or a stronger oppositional bloc). This alienated a large proportion of the membership, and there is now strong sentiment among NPA members in favour of finding ways to limit these counter-productive practices.

    Keep up the good work reporting on the radical Left in France!

    Andrew Coates

    February 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

  2. Thanks Nao.

    The NPA is a big subject.

    There are elements, like Besancenot’s own libertarian marxism (in ‘Pour un enrichissement libertaire du communisme.’), which need considering as well.

    Obviously on reporting their Congress everybody is biased.

    I am biased since my own general political position is shaped by positions somewhere between the Picquet Gauche Unitaire and the Alternatifs – though in my British context this means different things.

    I have followed some of web forum posts of the ‘revolutionary’ tendency and they have a strong flavour of the worst kind of sectarian British Trotskyism.

    In general terms I think that ‘blocs’ of left parties, and groups, are the only possible way for socialist politics to get national representation and to have an impact.

    That is one reason I back the Front de gauche.

    That is neither ‘coalitions’ (an American term imported by the SWP, originally meaning alliances of pressure groups, and bearing that imprint still), nor ‘Tactical United fronts’ in the SWP sense, that is short-term alliances of small parties, unions and pressure groups, nor ‘strategic united fronts’, Counterfire’s term, signifying that they run pressure group alliances for a long period.

    Andrew Coates

    February 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm


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