Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Front de Gauche: New Alliance, “Ensemble”, Re-alignments and Splits.

with 7 comments


There is now a new grouping inside the Front de Gauche,  «Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire». (Together: movement for a left ecological and social alternative),   Ensemble claims the place of the Third Pole inside the  Front de gauche (FdG) next to the PCF (French Communist Party and the PG (left party, led by Jean Luc-Mélenchon).  (Humanité)

The new grouping was set up last weekend at the  Bourse du travail de Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis)

One of its distinguishing  features is that it will be possible to be an individual member – something you cannot do with the Front de Gauche as a whole (you have to join one of the parties in the bloc).

This is an indication of Ensemble’s  aim to “Open the Windows” of the FdG to a wider public.

These are the groups (already part of the FdG) that have united to form the new alliance.

La Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (Fase), les Alternatifs, Convergence et alternative, la Gauche anticapitaliste (ex Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) and a part of  la Gauche unitaire (also from the NPA) . Individuals who have joined include  the economist Pierre Khalfa  and the former president of the Syndicat de la magistrature (magistrates trade union) Évelyne Sire-Marin.

Wikipedia (French) has more information here.

Official Site of Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire  here.

Report on the founding conference in Politis.

We learn this morning that the Gauche Unitaire (known as the Picquet Tendency) has excluded its supporters who have joined Ensemble (Declaration).

They state that it has “all the attributes of a political party”.

Their own policy, they announce, is that they will only help create a new party on a solid and politically clear basis – – something they implicitly state Ensemble is not.

In view of this the Gauche Unitaire declares that the 35 of its members who have joined the new grouping  are in contradiction with their organisation’s own statues  (Article 6 of their Constitution).

By joining another political party they are therefore no longer members of the Gauche Unitaire.


7 Responses

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  1. I think this is a good initiative, if somewhat Parisian Particulary the individual membership idea. The only problem I foresee is that it is almost solely comprised of splinters from other groups/parties that frankly specialise in ‘ fly fucking; -that is a high level of passionate debate and dispute about tiny details. Bringing between 1,000 and 1,500 disparate and hardly ideologically coherent militants together, this new grouplette is less than a fifth of the size of the NPA when it launched although its political breath from Eurocommmunists to Trotskyists via anarcho communists and red greens is a sectarians delight- and whether it can serve as the negotiating vehicle with the PCF and PdG remains to be seen- expect to her lots of denunciations of the ‘leadership’selling out for personal electoral gain in the near further.

    Where things could get interesting, if not a little heated is where the PCF sections have voted to back the PS list in the first round- like Paris and Toulouse, JLM has already threatened to expell and PdG comrade who backs the PS lead lists, so we could see a ‘revolutionary; FdG list standing against a PS/PCF list- which will make the FdG nationally a little fractious I imagine.

    I could well have it completely wrong of course and the Trotskyist comrades could have turned over a new non sectarian leaf- history however is, I think, more pessimistic.

    Pete Shield

    November 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  2. Is/not Gauche Unitaire already part of the FDG?

    “il (Picquet) refuse de rejoindre le NPA à sa création et fonde la Gauche unitaire, organisation membre du Front de gauche, dont il est porte-parole…Il est devenu l’un des porte-paroles de la Gauche Unitaire et du Front de gauche. Lors des élections régionales de 2010, il est tête de liste du Front de Gauche dans la région Midi-Pyrénées et est alors élu conseiller régional de Midi-Pyrénées.”

    Or is my very rusty GCSE French misunderstanding something in that Wikipedia quote?


    November 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

  3. Yes they are Dagmar.

    The point is that their majority want to remain part of the ‘front’ as an independent current, not join up with the groups listed above to form a ‘party‘, which will then act as a part of the FdG as such.

    There is also, I imagine, the bad feelings between the Gauche Unitaire, GU, and the Gauche anticapitaliste, GA, (part of Ensemble) at play here.

    Both come from the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire the Picquet Tendency is a figure sometimes described by the GA as ‘right wing’ – that is he and his comrades have a social republican tinge to their politics and are strongly secularist, unlike some in the GA.

    Andrew Coates

    November 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm

  4. Your comments about the Gauche Unitaire are misleading. The majority of the organization decided to join Ensemble and the Picquet-led majority within the leadership excluded them, after refusing to hold a membership conference to settle the question democratically.

    After running alongside the governing SP in the first round of this year’s municipal elections, the Picquet-led remnants of the GU have now “suspended” their involvement in the leadership of the Front de Gauche in protest against losing a spot on a Front de Gauche list for the European elections to someone from Ensemble — but also as part of an orientation that has taken them closer and closer to sections of the governing Socialists.

    Having stormed out of the founding conference of the NPA back in 2009 as part of a pre-arranged (and broadly publicized, including on this blog) stunt to tar the new party with the “anti-democratic” label, the GU has now fallen apart based on the personal aspirations and arbitrary methods of the tiny leadership group around Picquet. Picquet et al have employed the worst methods of a certain type of “orthodox” Trotskyism: one which combines undemocratic internal functioning, a handful of blowhard leaders (or just one), and opportunistic external manoeuvring in and around the CP and/or SP.

    While I don’t fully share their political positions, the post mortems of former GU leaders (Francis Sitel, for one) now in Ensemble are quite instructive about what Picquet and the GU have become. Have a look.

    Nathan Rao

    May 30, 2014 at 8:35 am

  5. Nathan I am quite aware of who the Picquet tendency are.

    The interest this Blog has in this is that it is desirable that a strong French left exists.

    The NPA has not helped in this.

    Remind me of what they got in the European elections?

    Oh it was 0,40%

    Below (0,58%) for Parti du vote blanc!

    Andrew Coates

    May 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

  6. Thanks for the quick reply. I don’t doubt that you personally know who the Picquet tendency are, but to my knowledge your blog hasn’t said anything about the Picquet leadership group’s anti-democratic organizational behaviour and current political trajectory toward sections of the governing PS. And yet you were quick to relay its absurd and self-serving claims of undemocratic treatment at the NPA founding convention.

    True, the NPA’s recent election results are an indicator among others of the failure of the original NPA project. It’s not clear how this will come about and who it would involve in the present gloomy context, but there is a need for some kind of new organizational initiative on the radical Left in France. I can see the current majority around Olivier Besancenot potentially moving in this direction, and I think Ensemble and much of the PG could be won over to such an initiative. The CP leadership around Laurent played a disastrous role around the recent elections, the municipal elections in particular, but in the present context of re-thinking and the deep crisis of the SP (and therefore of the long-term relevance of the CP’s unflinching electoral orientation to the SP) it’s likely important sections of the CP would also be interested in some sort of new radical-Left project. But all this is schematic and speculative right now, and the absence of any significant social struggle of a traditional or “Indignados” sort of course doesn’t help.

    Really, I would just ignore the GU, which was tiny to begin with (when it stormed out of the NPA founding convention) and is now a miniscule sect around Christian Picquet. But my impression is that a number of English-language commentators on the radical Left (such as Murray Smith, Dick Nichols and Jason Stanley, but also you, if I am not mistaken) saw it as a kind of saving grace of a certain type of Trotskyist orthodoxy, and in continuity with the smartest and most democratic traditions of the old LCR — as opposed to the supposedly ultra-left crazies of the LCR majority that saw the need for something broader than a traditional far-Left organization but organizationally and strategically independent from the SP and those in its orbit (such as the CP). You and others enjoy taking shots at the woeful state of organizations of the far-Left, and that is welcome and necessary as far as it goes, but it would also be nice to see some honesty about what has happened to those like Picquet who broke with the organized revolutionary Left in search of greener pastures.

    You say you want a strong French Left and then you trot out the NPA’s dismal election results. But the overall situation for the Left in France is terrible right now, so while it’s a nice little jab it’s not clear to me what point you are trying to make. The original hope of the NPA declined in the face of the rise of the Front de Gauche, about which many (including you, I believe) were extremely optimistic. It would have been far wiser to urge caution given the way the CP was wedded to an alliance with a rightward-moving SP, given Mélenchon’s erratic politics and style — and given an overall context unfavorable not only to a project such as the NPA’s but to radical Left politics generally.

    But that would have meant recognizing that maybe the NPA’s original project was just a miscalculation — a bold, honest and even necessary one perhaps, but a miscalculation nonetheless — and not a result of ultra-Left craziness as it has often been presented. And it would have meant recognizing that the NPA’s skepticism about the Front de Gauche perhaps had some merit, given the experience of spectacular rise and fall the NPA itself had gone through.

    I don’t get that sense of caution or introspection from your blog’s entries on the French Left.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. I guess it’s just an opportunity for me to say a few things that have been on my mind. Thanks for bearing with me.

    Nathan Rao

    May 31, 2014 at 8:57 am

  7. My own ideological evolution (I was in the IMG, in France I was in the Fédération pour une gauche alternative in the 1980s, actually a delegate our Parisian 17th/18th group) and have kept up links with the French left), with a strong dose of republican secularism, is not too different from parts of the Front de gauche.

    I have two articles on the recent French municipal election results, one in Chartist, the other in the Briefing.

    It would be wrong of me to write some kind of Weekly Worker material (even if I had more direct access) about the details of a complex political situation on the left when our main interest, is as I say, a very general one: a strong French left helps the left in the rest of Europe.

    The People’s Assembly (which I am active in) has a similar diverse alliance of the left and social movements to the FdG.

    Andrew Coates

    May 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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