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French Communist Party to stand 2020 Presidential Candidate, Fabien Roussel.

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Fabien Roussel PCF Presidential Candidate.

Présidentielle: le PCF opte pour une candidature «quoi qu’il en coûte» Mediapart (adapted).

For the first in fifteen years the French Communist Party, the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) has determined that it will present a Presidential candidate. That is, if a earth-shaking realignment does not take place on the left agrees on a united candidate.

Last weekend, during a national conference organised partly by videoconference, two-thirds of the around a thousand party delegates voted to present the candidacy of Fabien Roussel for the next presidential election. A candidacy that the national secretary of the PCF and deputy of the North promises to carry “right to its conclusion” and which must be ratified by a final vote of the members, on May 9th.

In 2017 the PCF had backed Jean Luc-Mélenchon and his Rally/Movement La France insoumise (LFI) in their bid for the Presidency. That option is, for the Communists, no long viable. Not only was the Mélenchon operation,, in common knowledge a populist leader with a “controversial” personality, a far from unifying machine, but, “Communist and LFI candidates competed in the following legislative elections, fratricidal duels, in most constituencies, especially in the red suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis and Val -de-Marne.”

The last time the PCF ran for the office of Head of State, Marie-George Buffet, in 2007, they had only got 1.9% of the votes. More recently, in the European elections of 2019, where they ended with a score of less than 3% – the threshold necessary for the reimbursement of the campaign. For the first time in the history of the European Parliament French Communist MEPs were not returned to Brussels.

Avec Fabien Roussel, les communistes retrouvent le goût du risque

Explaining their differences with Mélenchon,

 Some of the PCF cadres are still pushing for a new rapprochement with the rebels but they are in the minority in a family where every vote counts. The Communists have a strong argument: they no longer believe in the strength of the double presidential candidate (11% in 2012 and 19% in 2017). A leader said (of Mélenchon) curtly: “He can’t get the same score as the last time, it’s over, he’s burnt out.” Harsh words, shared on the left and among environmentalists. Yet les Insoumises still believe in their star.

At 11% Mélenchon is at present topping the poll for left and green candidates for the 2022 elections. The Green (EELV) Yannick Jadot is at 6% and the Socialist (PS) Anne Hidalgo is at 7%.

There are, as this Blog has reported, welcome moves for left unity in some areas, such as the Haut-de-France, for this year’s regional elections in June. How far a “dynamic” towards wider unity will spread is an open question.

Reporting on these developments the US left-populist magazine Jacobin says.

MP Fabien Roussel — national secretary of the Communist PCF — has declared his own presidential bid within his party. On Sunday a PCF national conference endorsed the idea of an independent presidential run, which would be the party’s first since 2007. The wider PCF membership, slated to vote on the project from May 7–9, will also likely have the option to vote for a competing resolution which calls on the party to build unity before the first round of the presidential election. For what it’s worth, PCF members have bucked party leadership before: In the fall of 2016, they voted to endorse Mélenchon’s campaign, rejecting the national conference’s vote for a PCF candidate.

In Northern France, A Divided Left Is Finally Coming Together Cole Stangler.

There are a number of problems with this. Conflicts between LFI and the PCF have grown since 2016. Mélenchon is an outstanding speaker in a political culture that prizes oratory. His left populism won him 7 million votes (19,58 %) in the 2017 Presidential election. But in practice the way he operates is as a one-man band with retainers and followers, unable to tolerate internal pluralism. LFI operates as an autocracy. There are no internal currents, and no mechanism for ‘supporters’ (there are no members properly speaking, except the top clique) to dissent. As Thomas Guénolé says there is “True democracy and self-management in words, but centralised and authoritarian management in reality.” (La Chute de la maison Mélenchon 2019).

A third time Mélenchon candidacy is unlikely to be backed by activists who have experience of this side of La France Insoumise. And that’s without wider political disagreements on the left.

Marine le Pen: Presidential “first Choice” for French 25 to 34 Year olds.

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France's Le Pen, at record high in polls, proposes hijab ban | Arab News

Marine le Pen: Presidential “first Choice” for 25 to 34 Year olds,

Le Monde has this story “If abstention remains officially the first choice of “first-time voters”, the voting intentions for young people in their late twenties and early thirties are for Marine Le Pen vote while 18-24 year olds lean more towards Emmanuel Macron.”

While the intention to abstain remains strong amongst those in the 25 to 34 cohort, “only 20% want to vote for Macron. Marine Le Pen has increased her backing from 23% in 2017 to 29% today.

“What is very striking,” says the deputy director of the polling institue Ipsos, “is that these young people, even more than the wider population, have deserted the traditional parties that were the Socialist Party and the Republicans (conservative right wing . They are looking for something else, something radical.  In 2017, it was Mélenchon and partly Macron, today it is still a little Mélenchon and much more the greens, but support for the Rassemblement National has grown significantly.

The historical links between Marine Le Pen’s party and its extreme right violent founders, illustrated by her father Jean Marie Le Pen’s comments on the gas chambers as a “detail of history”, no longer appear to repel large numbers of voters.

46% of young people believe that the RN is an honest party, that it is “capable of having a vision of the future for France” (45% among RN voters, 49% among 18-30 year olds).

An accompanying interview with the sociologist Anne Muxel is headlined: 

« Le clivage gauche-droite a perdu de sa pertinence chez les jeunes.”The left-right divide has lost its relevance among young people.

In effect that while backing the Greens or La France insoumise could channel the same anti-system protest vote casting a ballot for the far right, Muxel draws a parallel between the protest, radical vote, on the extreme right is and support for La France insoumise,  She argues that Jean-Luc Mélenchon had known how to attract a a section of young people unhappy with the with the in-government official left. He also had a very good campaign aimed at young people, using their channels and vectors of expression.

The RN has also, it is widely reported, largely succeeded in a process of “detoxification” or “de-demonisation” of its brand which began with Marine Le Pen’s ascension to leadership of the Front National, name change to the Rassemblent National, (‘re-branding’) in 2017 and continues with her (formal) resignation of Party leader to stand for next year’s Presidential elections as the candidate for  “all French people,” 

One of the most important reasons for this development is that the French left is fragmented, Mélenchon is not a unifying figure, and people, young or old, cannot see a an alternative ‘bloc de gauche’ as a serious contender in the Presidential elections against either Macron or Le Pen.

The FT has the story today:

French politics: Macron faces test of character as Le Pen’s popularity grows

Victor Mallet

It would be a political earthquake as disruptive as the UK referendum vote for Brexit in 2016 and the election of Donald Trump as US president later that year. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s extreme right Rassemblement National party, is doing so well in the polls that she threatens to foil Emmanuel Macron’s re-election bid and could win next year’s presidential vote to become the country’s first far-right leader since the second world war.

….

The latest opinion polls suggest Le Pen has a real chance of winning, representing a significant threat to the French establishment and the unity of the EU.

..

Next year, according to the latest opinion polls, Le Pen could lead in the first round and therefore be assured of a place in the final, and if it is Macron that makes it through as well then he is currently forecast to win by as little as 53 per cent to 47 per cent, according to a Harris Interactive-L’Opinion poll in March. The front républicain system is crumbling because many leftwing voters say they will abstain. Some may even vote for Le Pen, whose strongholds are in the industrial towns of the north once dominated by communists.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2021 at 1:10 pm

150 Years Ago the Paris Commune Adopted Secularism.

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Vive La Commune! Décret, datant du 3 avril 1871.

“150 years ago today, the Paris Commune decreed the separation of Church and State and established secularism as one of the fundamentals of the workers’ movement.”

The Paris Commune, Considering that the first of the principle of the French Republic is Liberty; Considering that freedom of conscience is the first of freedoms; Considering that the budget of the religious bodies is contrary to the principle, since it is an imposition on citizens against their own faith; Considering, in fact, that the clergy were complicit in the crimes of the monarchy against freedom,

Article I: The Church is separate from the State.

Article II: The religious budget is abolished.

Article III: The so-called mortmain property, belonging to religious congregations, movable and immovable, are declared national property.

Article IV: An investigation will be made immediately on these goods, to ascertain their nature and put them at the disposal of the nation.

From Lucien’s Blog:

“Our secularism, the permanent protest of a class on the move against all the forces that tend to paralyze it, really deserves to concentrate all the fury of the social conservatives. (…) Our secularism is however sure to win, because it expresses the instinctive tendency of a class towards its economic liberation. ” (Marceau Pivert, 1932)

“One day or another, the vast majority of the international proletariat will agree with Rosa Luxembourg to appreciate exactly the religious phenomenon and to adopt a tactic of proletarian anticlericalism in accordance with the demands of the class struggle”

(Marceau Pivert, 1937)

From Lucien.

Pour une laïcité prolétarienne

Solidarité avec les luttes sociales et féministes contre les cléricalismes, les intégrismes religieux, le capitalisme et le patriarcat rétrograde.

See also:

VAILLANT ET LA LAÏCITÉ

Written by Andrew Coates

April 3, 2021 at 11:55 am