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French Presidential Elections Poll: Divided far-right (Le Pen and Zemmour) totals historic high at 29%.

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Divided far-right (le Pen and Zemmour) totals historic high at 29%.

For those following French politics this is a thorough and must-read study.

The rival far right candidates, despite the issue of immigration coming at 31% third in the list of people’s concerns (after living standards, 40% and Covid 33%), seem to have been pushed aside by Vallière Pécresse of Les Républicaines. She is of the traditional (formerly ‘Gaullist’) centre to hard right and now looks to be the main challenger to outgoing President Emmanuel Macron.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon continues his decline below 10% and now stands neck-and-neck with the Green candidate Yannick Jadot The Socialist Party candidate and Mayor of Paris, Hidalgo fails to reach 5%. The rest of the left barely registers, the Communists have the same score as sovereigntist Frexit campaigner Dupont-Aignan. The Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste are at 1,5% as is left sovereigntist Montebourg. At 0,5% Lutte Ouvrière are at a level that is statistically irrelevant. Jean Lassalle despite nicking his party name from Chris Williamson (Résistons) is a centrist, far from the left.

Le Monde comments;

Two elements call for caution, however. First of all, abstention. According to our panel, 61% of those questioned declared themselves “certain to vote”, which is nine points less than in December 2016. Logically, “probable” and “potential” abstainers are 27% of those questioned. , compared to 18% five years ago. As the campaign progresses, the French will take an interest in the stakes of the ballot and some of these abstainers could decide to vote. It remains to be seen for whom.

Another very important data: electoral mobility. Our survey shows that in two months 30% of respondents have changed their minds and are part of those we call les changeurs” (literally, money changers/currency exchangers) . A significant figure.

.. if the total of all the candidates of the left, environmentalists and the extreme left is between 24% and 29.5%, it seems impossible to join together, or even co-exist, their programmes which diverge on points as crucial as ecological transition, nuclear power. , security or secularism, or even imagine that revolutionaries will line up behind reformists.

Election présidentielle 2022 : un scrutin plus que jamais imprévisible, selon la troisième enquête électorale publiée par « Le Monde »

The left has been further shaken up by this announcement,

Former left-wing justice minister Taubira considering run for French presidency

France 24.

Christiane Taubira, a leading figure on the left of French politics and a justice minister in the Socialist government of former president François Hollande, said Friday she was considering running for president next year, and would give an update on her plans in January

In a video posted on her Twitter account Friday, Taubira said: “What matters is the fragility of daily life for millions of you, the uncertainties of the future, the fragmentations that are at work in French society.”

Christiane Taubira, a leading figure on the left of French politics and a justice minister in the Socialist government of former president François Hollande, said Friday she was considering running for president next year, and would give an update on her plans in January.

In a video posted on her Twitter account Friday, Taubira said: “What matters is the fragility of daily life for millions of you, the uncertainties of the future, the fragmentations that are at work in French society.”

Taubira comes across very well, “Taubira was nominated Minister of Justice by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, following the victory of François Hollande in the 2012 elections. At the time, she was one of the few black, female politicians within a prominent ministry in the French government. She soon emerged as one of the most outspoken and progressive voices in the government”.

Many people, including the writer of this Blog, like her.

However…. there are those who recall her Presidential candidacy in 2002, which some blame for fragmenting the vote at the time. “In 2002, Taubira was a Left Radical Party (PRG) candidate for the Presidency, although she did not belong to the Party; she won 2.32% of the votes.”

Taubira 2022 : le spectre d’une candidature sans projet

The left magazine Regards is not short on criticisms,

According to what generation you are from, Christiane Taubira does not evoke the same memories. There are those who remember her first steps in the National Assembly in 1993 when she supported vote of confidence in the Prime Minister of the time, a certain (centre-right) Edouard Balladur…. A year later, she campaigned alongside Bernard Tapie for the European elections, supported by the Left Radical Party (PRG).

There are those on the left who hated her in 2002 when she decided to run for president. The same people accused her of having weakened the left with her 2.32% in the first round, preventing, according to them, the Socialist Lionel Jospin (16.18%) from reaching the second round and having made the run off possible between Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen – often forgetting that among the other contenders for the Élysée Palace, there were other left candidates, Arlette Laguiller (5.72%), Jean-Pierre Chevènement (5.33%), Noël Mamère ( 5.25%), Olivier Besancenot (4.25%) or Robert Hue (3.91%).

Finally, there is the Christiane Taubira of the last two decades, the one whose voice and lyrical flights still resonate with delight in our ears, when she defended in 2001 the historic law recognizing trafficking and slavery as a crime against humanity or that in 2012 in favour of gay marriage (marriage pour tous). The same person who resigned, some time later, from the government of Manuel Valls to mark her political disagreement with his project to deprive people of French nationality (Note: initially for offences that, “constituant une atteinte grave à la vie de la Nation” serious damage to the life of the nation, essentially terrorism, after intense and complex controversy the law was not passed) – even if we forget a little too quickly that the only minister, in the Council of Ministers, who strongly opposed this announcement was George Pau-Langevin, in the Overseas portfolio.

..

Despite everything, she remains an icon of the left without really knowing the grounds or the reasons for it.

(full article via link above).

Regards is historically a Parti Communiste Français magazine, although it has a broader left basis at present.

Guardian:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2021 at 1:50 pm

French Communist Party Standing for Presidential Election..

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VIDEO. Qui est Fabien Roussel, député du Nord, candidat à la tête du PCF ?

“A fading star that is nearly politically dead” but one which continues “to radiate”. Bernard Lazar description of the Parti Communiste Français in 2005, still has some force today (Le Communisme une Passion Française).

In the first decade of the new millenium, if the Communist Robert Hue got only for 3,4 % of the Presidential ballots in 2002, and their list 4,8 % in Parliamentary elections, going down from 35 to 21 MPs, they still had real influence. PCF MPs had been part of the left “gauche plurielle” under Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (1997 to 2002), “co-habiting’ with the right-wing President Jacques Chirac.

At the same time the radical left which some saw as the successors of the PCF, had an influence. The period saw the arrival of ‘alter-globalisation’ movements, historic highs for far-left candidates – 5,72% for Trotskyist Arlette Laguiller (Lutte Ouvrière), 4,25 % for Olivier Besancenot (Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire) in the same contest as Hue – and left-wing greens.

Many people considered that, as these election results suggested, if the PCF was declining other parties and movements of the radical left were taking its place. Phillipe Raynaud described this world as the plural far-left (extrême-gauche plurielle), covering a vogue for theorists like Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Toni Negri, revived Trotskyist organisations – the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste was formed in 2009 – to the influential association, ATTAC (L’Association pour la taxation des transactions financières et pour l’action citoyenne), which pioneered alter-globalisation before the arrival of Occupy!

But, Raynaud noted, much of its energy was negative: against economic liberalism, against both the liberal right and reformist left. Beyond this protest the writer, sympathetic to political liberalism, suggested that the left may have been able to express a wish for alternatives to capitalism that have survived the collapse of Communism, but had yet to move beyond reacting to the crises of globalisation and capitalism. ( L’Extrême Gauche plurielle. Entre démocratie et révolution. 2006).

Watching debates on the French radical left over the last weeks there was none of this ebullience. It has long been accepted that the left has to be more than a reaction against economic liberalism, and Reaction, Geoffroy de Lagasnerie being only one of many writers to make the point (Sortir de notre impuissance politique 2020). But many would be than happy were they in the position of they were in over a decade ago when radical movements from the left simply had an impact.

The Communists are not in a happy place either.

Fabien Roussel returns to the fundamentals of the PCF

For the first time since 2012, the Communist Party, Parti Communiste Français (PCF) is presenting its own presidential candidate, its national secretary, Fabien Roussel. 

Since 2012, the Communists have campaigned alongside Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The alliance took shape in the  Front de gauche pour changer d’Europe  in the 2009 European elections when the left populist was the leader of a small break-away from the Parti Socialistes, the  Parti de gauche. They got  6,5 %, above the level needed to have MEPs. In 2012 PCF members voted in favour of Mélenchon as a Presidential candidate, heading the Front de Gauche on a left-wing programme. At 11,1 % in the first round, way beyond the score the Communist  Marie-George Buffet had got, running independently, in 2007 – 1,93 %.

In 2017 despite opposition from the PCF leadership whose experience of working with Mélenchon was, it is reported, not always a happy one, the majority of party members voted to back the Presidential bid of the man now leading the new party/movement/rally La France insoumise. He came Fourth in the first round, with an impressive  19,6 %.

That the PCF had changed its electoral position after a democratic internal vote of the membership indicated a very public break with the historic practice of ‘democratic centralism’ which guaranted the victory of the leadership. In 2018 the main party ‘line’ document was also rejected by card-carriers. At the  XXXVIIIe Congress Secretary  Pierre Laurent left his post and was replaced by Fabien Roussel, now candidate for the Presidency. What remained of the bloc with Mélenchon, the Front de Gauche, was dissolved.

The return to full PCF independence led to PCF list for the European elections in 2019, which got 2,5 % and no MEPS. This follows continuing decline in municipal politics.

La France insoumise (LFI), has lost an ally in the seasoned activists and backing from the (remaining) Communist municipalities and councillors. For the Presidential elections this means that Mélenchon’s it is struggling to collect the 500 signatures of elected officials required to enter the official race for the Head of State. At the beginning of December, LFI had only got around 300 names for Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The PCF has around 40 000 members, and a large number of real, not ‘virtual’ activists with roots in the working class, associative life and municipal politics. If there are no formal tendencies in the party, there are groupings, ‘courants’ of some serious weight. They also include a small group La Riposte which has ‘links‘. with the British ……Socialist Appeal. (Courants actuels). The PCF, if you watch their videos, live transmissions, and read their literature have a serious and appealing left programme. In competition with 6 other left candidates for next April’s Presidential election.

The PCF’s runner Fabien Roussel stands at around 2% in the opinion polls.

Former leader calls for support for Mélenchon and gets silenced:

Has the far left overtaken the PCF?

The two candidates of the radical left, Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière) and Philippe Poutou (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste) both poll at 1%.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2021 at 1:49 pm

Éric Zemmour and Fascism.

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Meeting d'Eric Zemmour : Le groupuscule d'ultradroite « les Zouaves »  pourrait être dissous

 Les Zouaves, Far Right Thugs Backing Zemmour.

One of the features of Éric Zemmour’s candidacy for the Presidential election has been the entry in force of the different factions of the French far-right behind his campaign. For many this illustrates that there is cross-over between his national populism and fascism. That while not backed up by a totalitarian mass party Zemmour and his ideas are part of the “fachosphère.”

A few voices disagree. They say that the polemicist is a “creature of the Establishment” and that “Zemmour indeed sounds like a fascist and has the ideas of a fascist (De quoi Zemmour est-il le symptôme morbide ? Ugo Palheta) but unlike his electoral opponent Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally party, he has no direct link with the French fascist tradition” (Éric Zemmour is no fascist – he’s the creature of the French establishment). Not only does he not come, as Marine Le Pen does , from a venerable extreme-right lineage but Philippe Marlière claims that the candidate embodies the “universalism” of the French republican tradition that the upper crust holds to. This is one whose claims to colour-blindness and globally valid values, liberty equality and fraternity, are a Smoke scéen to squash ethic differences and act as a cover for discrimination. More. The Open Democracy contributor claims that ” a racist like Zemmour can find in assimilationist republicanism a handy tool to exercise his hatred of Muslims and foreigners.”

There is a place for discussion about what has been called a Particularity (French Republicanism) that claims to be a Universalism. There is a debate about how French culture has become dominated by a series of reactionary ideas, both traditional – and confusionist mixtures of red and brown, paralleling the British Spiked – as advanced in the stimulating, Comment sommes-nous devenus réacs. by Frédérique Matonti. 2021. An calling Zemmour part of the Establishment is itself ambiguous. If his background lies in the elite, he has attracted prominent support from those on the periphery, including Gilets Jaunes such as  Jacline Mouraud, the protest movement many of Marlière’s friends on the French radical left welcomed at at one point.

A more thorny issue about what the London based academic asserts about Zemmour’s Jewish heritage, “In fact, Zemmour acts like a typical ‘French Israelite’; an expression that encapsulates Jewishness as a religion, not as a broader cultural identity.” One leaves it to others to discuss this in depth but while there is little doubt that the candidate uses his own take on assimilation to attack Muslims it is far from clear how “typical” this is of “French Israelites”.

The Open Democracy polemic misses a more important point. Zemmour is not located within any form of mainstream ‘establishment’ republicanism: his ‘questions’ about the innocence of Dreyfus, his defence of Vichy – the executioner of the 3rd Republic – rule that out. Bringing the issue of republican universalism when we try to get to grips with the leader of his own party, La Reconquête, (a pre-republic name if ever there was one) obscures the nature of his debt to the anti-Enlightenment anti-French Revolution tradition.

Zemmour draws on central themes of the classic French extreme right. They include an appeal to ideas about the importance of what can be called La Terre and Les Morts (the Soil and the Dead). The threat posed by the Grand Replacement, immigration, indicates a bond to an old tradition of the far-right. This is associated not just with the author of that phrase, Maurice Barrès but to the founder of Action française, Charles Maurras and his loathing of a “la France métissée“, racial mixing. Maurras was the most explicit opponent of the republic you could possibly imagine. Action française called the Republic and Marianne La Gueuse (the harlot). Their leader was a ‘Monarchist’ (the inverted commas indicate the lack of a serious possibility in the 20th century of restoring the French Monarchy) who ended up collaborating with the Nazi occupation.

Zemmour in his most recent book, La France n’ pas dit son dernier mot (2021), traces his idea of a heroic French nation back to the early mediaeval Merovingian kings. A few years before he stated that, “Ignoring the lessons of the past and forgetting the virtues of its history, France is wrecking its state in the name of human rights and the unity of its people in the name of universalism.” («Ignorant les leçons du passé et oubliant les vertus de son histoire, la France saborde son état au nom des droits de l’homme et l’unité de son peuple au nom de l’universalisme.» Charles Zemmour et Eric Maurras, a title chosen by Libération no doubt to illustrate the two figures similarity). This is about as far from “republican universalism” as you could possibly get.

Zemmour is, many political commentators and analysts agree, not just a product of moral panic, and a shift to the right in French politics, important though that is. How can we explain his arrival ?

The Contretemps article by Ugo Palheta Marlière uses as the basis of his Open Democracy piece goes so far as suggest that the French bourgeoisie in some senses “needs” his ilk to keep the political show going, helping to ward off any real challenge to the system. In this way Zemmour is the creation of these power engaged in “la fabrication du personnage médiatique. Why? For Palheta he represents for fractions of the bourgeoisie “une possible solution de rechange” (an convenient alternative). It seems that the bosses look for a variety of agents capable of defending the social order by any means necessary (“une variété d’agents capables de défendre l’ordre social et de favoriser l’accumulation du capital, par tous les moyens nécessaires.”) They use people who appear independent, untainted with association with the discredited existing parties to keep capital accumulation working by any means necessary. Enter the first Presidential campaign of Macron. Enter Zemmour in this campaign also supported by a layer of top Bosses and welding neo-liberal economics, scapegoating Muslims, and a “ backlash idéologique anti-égalitaire.”

All of which, Palheta claims, is needed to fight some large anti-racist demonstrations, and powerful “mobilisations féministes.” The Lille University academic is a member of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste and the Fourth International.

The right wing shift in public opinion in France has many causes, but accounting for it in terms of the media, intellectuals, and their relationship to well-financed operations by the wealthy is not a fruitful avenue. Deep changes, such as de- industrialisation, and the fall of Official Communism, have weakened the core voting bloc of the left. Post-post-Fordism, the kind of society portrayed in novels like Leurs enfants après eux (2018) by Nicolas Mathieu and autobiographical studies like Retour à Reims (2011) by Didier Eribon grapple better with the terrain on which the far right has flourished than accounts of the doings of media empires or national politics.

The fact that Zemmour is, as Marlière has pointed out before, adept at communication techniques ( which one might call “rompu à l’exercice médiatique” masks the fact that people have to be willing to listen to this message in the first place. Zemmour scores highly on issues of immigration (38%) , and nearly the same percentage (37% on ‘insecurity’, not feeling safe, worries about crime and precarious living conditions (France Info. 9.12.21). Both suggest that structural mechanisms of solidarity are not working, not that everybody is frightened by what they see mispresented in the right-wing media.

The operations of the business sector equally cannot account for the way the less well-endowed far-right is able to autonomously create its own movements in favourable conditions. Or the way reactionary ideas can be generated without support from Grand Capital. Zemmour has attracted active support from the far-right who are said to have a big presence in Génération Zemmour and no doubt in the new party La Reconquête. These include the micro-party La Ligue de Sud, to groupuscules, such as the present-day Action française, and even more extreme bodies such as La Famille gallicane, Génération Z, Les Vilains Fachos (LVF the same acronym used for French volunteer fighters for Nazi Germany), (Dans l’orbite d’Eric Zemmour, une nébuleuse de groupuscules violents d’ultradroite). All of these groups have their own structures and ideas that are hard to trace to the manipulations of capitalists manufacturing media personalities. This will have to be a fundamental part of any explanation of Zemmour’s appeal along with a more intricate description of his media and political network than the one offered in the tale about his “establishment” background.

More on the far-right (4,770 members) youth movement set up to back Zemmour:

Then there are these thugs, who are the present day form of a notorious far-right student squad, Groupe union défense (GUD):

Eric Zemmour in Villepinte: what the images show of the violence at his meeting

Le Monde. 11.12.21.

Analysis of photos and videos of the candidate’s meeting confirms that the Zouaves Paris, a violent group, played a central role throughout the day.

The article demonstrates in depth the key role of the Zouaves. The groupuscule is named after French light infantry units belonging to the African Army, ” associated with the image of the battles of the Second Empire.

To the best of one’s knowledge the ‘universalist republicans’ opposed the Second Empire of  Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, even if only a small radical cohort amongst them opposed French colonialisation in the early years of the 3rd Republic…

Oh, and Zemmour’s poll support has not stopped getting lower: he is now down to 12 % (from a high at 17%).

Written by Andrew Coates

December 11, 2021 at 3:31 pm