Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Troubles Appear to Grow in the Front de Gauche.

with 7 comments

We have already blogged  on the  conflicts inside the French left-wing alliance, the Front de Gauche.

The French Communist Party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s group, the Left party (Parti de Gauche) have basic disagreements about their electoral strategy.

The main source of tension is the PCF’s intention to reach agreements with the French Parti Socialiste for next year’s March local elections.

Matters were brought to head over the PCF’s decision to align with the Socialists for the Paris  elections.

Libération reports today,

The decision of the Communists to ally with the PS for the Parisian  municipal  polls has led Mélenchon and his immediate allies to delay discussions for the European May elections.

The  Front de Gauche is at a standstill. If, at the local level,  teams of their activists are busy preparing for the municipal elections in March, nationally, tensions related to the choice of the PCF to ally with the PS in Paris continue to  relations. “We cannot rewrite history” remarks a key FdG figure. “We have now to  begin discussions on the European elections.” That’s as may be, but the Left Party (PG) of  Jean-Luc Mélenchon has not forgotten the “betrayal” in Paris. His battle with Pierre Laurent (PCF leader)  is continuing … with the hope of wining concessions over nominations for MEP lists.

The article notes that these divisions have led  Mélenchon (a MEP) to equivocate over the election of Pierre Laurent (PCF)  as President of the European Left Party – the bloc of left groups in the European Parliament.

The author suggests that the PG may wish to wait until th e results of the March local elections are known before deciding on the composition of the May European lists.

One should note that the author of this article, Lilian Alemagna,  has written, with Stéphane Allies, Mélenchon le Plébéien (2012).

This book has not, to say the least, received a warm welcome from supporters of the Front de Gauche.

Its tone may be grasped from the blurb, “Rythmé d’anecdotes savoureuses, truffé de revelations…” (full of savourous anecdotes, stuffed full of revelations…).

Critics accuse it of barely going beyond this level.

Mélenchon himself says that Alemagna’s  articles are “venimeux” (full of venom).

However there is objective evidence of strong tensions between the PCF and other parts of the FdG.

Not only the Parti de Gauche, but groups, such as the respected  Gauche Anticapitaliste, opposed the decision to align with the Socialists in Paris.

As we wish the Front de Gauche well we hope that the present difficulties can be overcome.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

7 Responses

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  1. The PCF is hosting discussions and votes in every single municipality, firstly on the political programme for the municipal elections, and secondly on whether to stand solely on the FdG ticket or whether it makes more sense in the face of a resurgent FN to stand a single left candidate. The decision tends to reflect local rather than national concerns- and the strength and weaknesses of the likely head of the list, whether socialist or communist.

    The PS is making similar decisions, without the debate and vote in most cases- on whether to side with the centre right or the left.

    Now the PdG being a small split off from the PS tends to have a clear line on not doing deals with their old comrades, for them it is rather an existential question, if you are going to stand on the same ticket why split off and form their own party? As for the handful of anti-caps they are having enough problems talking to each other let alone working with the other small groups in the FdG that the thought of forming an anti FN.left block is enough to give them a seizure.

    The reality is that next year is going to be horrible, even under normal circumstances the PS which has wiped the floor in regional, municipal and European election under the previous govt would expect to take a bit of a hit in the first round of elections after their winning of national elections. But these are far from normal times, the PS government has staggered from one farce to another, ministers with secret off shore bank accounts, a prime minster who is invisible, a president many wish was invisible, no clear sense of direction, public squabbling, a dodgy alliance with the Greens, factory closures, high unemployment. The centre right are not doing much better, a clear and continuing crisis of leadership between Cope and Fillon hides a much deeper malaise and loss of direction, so who is picking up the slack- not sadly the FdG, oh yes we have a slightly better combined vote than the PCF did by itself but not such as we might have hoped.

    The painful reality is that the FN has stepped into the gap created by the combined crisis of the PS and the UMP., all Marine Le Pen’s hard work to rebuild a ‘new’ FN is beginning to pay off, with the FN now the single most popular party in the country.

    So the reality is the PS is going to get slaughtered in the municipals, and if we are not careful the main beneficiaries are going to be the FN. The nature of the two stage election process is that if FN gets the votes the polls are saying is that in many municipalities they are going to get through to the second round. The question is who is going to get through to take them on, a PS, a FdG candidate or a UMP one, or will it take a joint PS/FdG card to get enough votes to ensure it is a left /FN second round not a UMP/FN second round? That is the calculations going through communists minds in seats that we think can be held by the left- in no hoper situations a ‘principled’ stand alone FdG list makes no difference here nor there.

    Melenchon has threatened to expel any PdG members who sign up for a combined Left slate- no problems comrades there is always a place for you in the PCF, where we debate and vote on these things and you no longer get expelled for being in a minority.

    Pete Shield

    November 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

  2. On an anecdotal note the FN is getting much more together and active, for the second week running I have been leafleted in the Perpignan organic market by the FN, with a clever leaflet attacking the UMP council for running down the city centre commerce and accepting brides from out of town shopping centre developers and large supermarket chains. Instead of the usual pied noir morons the FN activists were smartly dressed young men and women, clearly targeting small business owners- a key part of their target audience. Perpignan is a target council for the FN, with Marine Le Pen’s partner leading the list.

    Pete Shield

    November 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  3. What do you make of the revolt in Brittany http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article30231

    Jim Monaghan

    November 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  4. It would not have been appropriate to comment on this in detail Pete, as I am not in France.

    But it would seem obvious to me that le Peuple de Gauche would want unity of the left against the Front National whose rise in the opinion polls is even more marked than UKIP’s here (there are some parallels, as there are right across Europe).

    Lilian Alemagna seems to be playing with politics to fight the left in the way the Guardian’s numerous pro-Blair commentators did in the 1990s and still do.

    Like the Guardian Libération has a long record of publishing people who enjoy playing politics, without ever taking responsibility for anything.

    Andrew Coates

    November 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  5. Gave some thoughts Jim on Andrew’s facebook comment

    Pete Shield

    November 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

  6. This extremely well informed article on the above is essential reading.

    France: As National Front support grows, strategy struggle erupts in Left Front.

    Dick Nichols.

    (From Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal)


    Andrew Coates

    November 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

  7. À l’issue du second tour, la droite contrôle 318 municipalités de plus de 15 000 habitants, contre 259 pour l’ensemble de la gauche.

    Rick Russell

    November 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm

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