Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Front de Gauche on the Brink of a Split?

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Split in the Front de Gauche?

The National Front won the first round of the ‘cantonal’ by- election at Brignoles in the Var. Its candidate, Lawrence Lopez, got 40.4% of the vote to the UMP candidate , Catherine Delzers, who came second with 20.8% of votes.

The two left candidates, Communist Party, (PCF) (14.6% of the vote) and the Greens EELV (8.9%) were eliminated in the first round of voting in this district won by the left in 2012. A right-wing dissident candidate, Jean-Paul Dispard, having obtained 9.1% of the vote, far right meets a total of more than 49% of votes in the first round marked by a low turnout (67%).

According to Le Monde the Communist Party blames the Green Party for this result.

But this result has stirred up an already serious division on the left, inside the Front de gauche (FdG), in which the PCF is the largest party.

L’Humanité notes today that the PCF the Parti Socialiste (PS) have called for a “Front républicain” to block the election of the far-right FN by voting for the UDF in the second round. The Socialists had in fact  called for a PCF vote in the first round, and not their government  partners the EELV.

But this morning on France Inter Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leading figure in the Front de gauche, and leader (inside the alliance) of the small Parti de Gauche (PG)  said that the Parti Socialiste was to blame for the far-right vote.

The Socialist President, François Hollande was the cause of the far-right surge,

“le principal pourvoyeur des voix du FN est à l’Elysée”. Il a refusé de choisir entre le parti de Marine Le Pen et l’UMP au second tour de la  cantonale du Var.

“the main source of the  FN vote is at the Elysee.” He refused to choose between the party of Marine Le Pen and the UMP in the second round of the cantonal du Var.

He went on to claim that the  reasons for the rise of the extreme-right lay in,

“The deep divisions  on the left which have created despair and resignation. We elected a President of the Republic on a social democratic basis, and what does he do? He  dismantles the social achievements of the country,” he said citing the pension reforms.

“People are living out the opposite of what they expected. Why are they constantly cuddling up to  the bosses?”

On the call for the Republican Front, he said that both the UDF and the Front National throve on the same calls to hate. There was nothing to choose between “the devil and the deep blue sea” (la  peste ou le choléra, literally plague and cholera).

Mélenchon stated that the Front de gauche was not just interested in elections, but in “mobilisation”. This was the way out of despair, and the ground of hope for the future.

Pressed to explain what these views meant for next year’s local elections he weighed in with support for “autonomous” FdG lists, rather than agreements with the Socialists.

It is well known that the PCF councillors only survives in many municipalities because of electoral pacts with the Parti Socialiste.

They are not likely to throw away this at  Mélenchon’s command.

Earlier on France-Inter this problems this is causing inside the Front de gauche were discussed.

Disagreements between  Mélenchon and the PCF came to the fore at the end of the summer, with the Communists’ leader, Pierre Laurent, complaining about the language used by the Jean-Luc against his own views.

Mélenchon has only partially patched his relations with the Communists up.

He has no doubt noted that some opinion polls (such as one in June) that  le Front de Gauche could get 15 % in next year’s European election, the same as the Parti Socialiste. But before this the municipal elections take place in March.

For those interested in the detail of what these local elections mean can be seen here.

The  Parti de Gauche has 12,000 members.

It has one European Deputy, 17 regional councillors, 11 general councillors, 1 metropolitan councillor, 2 Paris councillors and leads 7 communes of more than 3,500 inhabitants.

The Parti Communiste Français claims 138, 000.

It has 13 MPs and 19 senators, 10 000 councillors (at various levels) in 800 councils, 89 mayors of towns with more than 9, 000 inhabitants.

It does not take much to realise why the PCF takes local elections very seriously.

They may be prepared to split on this.

There is not much sign of any mass “mobilisation” in France to pull them away from this position.

Behind this are other issues.

At his best Mélenchon is an inspiring speaker.

His anti-racist  speeches last year, during the Presidential election campaign, in favour of “Métissage” (mixing) and secularism, stand in stark contrast to the failure to confront these issues on the British left.

At his worst the leader of the Parti de gauche sounds like a believer in a messianic mission for the French Left, with 19th century revolutionary ‘patriotic’  overtones.

It was unfortunate that on France-Inter today Mélenchon referred to his Socialist Party opponents “barking” (aboyer).

This is how he often comes across: a satirical show has him breaking into barks every second sentence.

And that is without his widely reported habit of calling those that cross him, “connards” – whose meaning can be easily guessed.

Many on the European left admire the Front de gauche – we are amongst them.

We hope this can be sorted out.

One piece of advice.

If Mélenchon continues to rail against ‘les anglo-saxons’ can we suggest that he stops using some products of linguistic “métissage” – nord, sud, est and ouest,

They are 12th century additions to the French language from the  English:  North, South, East and West.


Parti de Gauche on the Brignoles result here, with the view that the Socialists are largely to blame for the far-right’s success. They also affirm that this shows the need for “le FDG a plus que jamais la responsabilité d’offrir une nouvelle voie, claire et autonome ” – to stand out on their own (without agreements with the PS).


2 Responses

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  1. He sounds more than a bit like Oskar Lafontaine, though I doubt if any newspaper editor could get away with describing Mélenchon as “the most dangerous man in Europe”.


    October 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm

  2. Mélenchon was in the Parti Socialiste for a long time, and respected on its left.

    Before that he was a Lambertist – which is not, I suspect, Lafontaine’s background.

    If you follow the evolution of Lambertism, a the time known as the’Organisation communiste internationaliste, leaving them in 1975.

    Some people can’t help but be reminded of this current’s present evolution (into a ‘sovereigntist anti-EU bloc) when Mélenchon evokes the traditions of the French Revolution.

    I should add that my background, “pabloism” is not known for fostering tender feelings towards ‘Lambertism’.

    Wikipedia (English): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Lambert

    This article (French) gives the more complicated factional backgrounds of the Parti de Gauche leadership: http://www.liberation.fr/politiques/2012/04/09/les-piliers-de-la-maison-melenchon_810599

    Andrew Coates

    October 8, 2013 at 10:24 am

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