Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Front de Gauche

French Left in Deep Crisis.

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Caesar of the French Left?

France’s Socialist President François Hollande, and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls continue to try to grapple the results of last December’s regional Elections.

In the first round the Front National (FN) came first, with 27.73% of the vote, the right, Union de la droite, 26,65%, and the Parti Socialiste (PS) led Union de la gauche, 23,12%. The Greens, Europe Écologie-Les Verts (ELEV) and the Front de gauche (FdG), totaled 9,57%, a figure which hides deep divisions between ecologists who stood on joint lists the FdG, and those who stood on their own, often with the clear intention of aligning with the Socialists come what may.

Opinion polls indicate that the far-right’s Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, for the 2017 elections, remains popular enough for a possible second round contest between her party and the right. That conservative wing, Les Républicains (LR), has yet to decide its own candidate. A contest in a “primary” between former President Nicolas Sarkozy (today again embroiled in the legal process over the finances for his 2012 bid for re-election), Alain Juppé, and François Copé, has brought out divisions over Sarkozy’s efforts to appeal to the FN’s electorate by calling for a clamp down on immigration and respect for France’s “Christian roots”. Many simply do not want another term of Sarkozy in office. At present Juppé appears favoured by LR supporters (Le Monde. 16.2.15).

Last week’s Cabinet reshuffle – in the hands of the President – can also be seen as a response to the FN’s popularity. Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls has faced opposition to the State of Emergency and plans to deprive those convicted of terrorist offences of French nationality. 92 deputies in the National Assembly voted against the latter measure, including many from the PS. Inside the governing party, the ‘frondeurs’, those opposed to their own party’s direction, from the liberalisation of labour laws, to the post November Paris massacre clamp-down, are not present in the new government. Nor is the moderate left, with the doubtful exception of former PM Jan-Marc Ayrault, now Foreign Minister.

Greens on verge of Disintegration.

The most striking aspect of the new Cabinet is the entry of three ecologists, including the EELV’s national secretary, Emmanuelle Cosse. The Green Party had left the government with the appointment of Valls – one of the few French politicians to admire Tony Blair and the ‘Third Way’ – in 2014. Without consulting their colleagues the new Ministers negotiated their individual return. They obtained as a reward the promise of a local referendum on the controversial project to build an airport at Notre-Dame –des-Landes. A Poll indicated that three quarters of French electors are unhappy with the make up of the new government, including 50% of the Greens. 59% considered the entry of the ecologists in the Cabinet was a bad thing. 80% were not convinced by François Hollande’s intervention announcing the changes.  (le Point).

The Greens, already suffering from disputes over local alliances with the FdG in the regional contest, the halving of their vote in those elections, are now split again. Inside the EELV opponents of this move have not hesitated to talk of the new Ministers’ “treason”. (Le Monde 13.2.15) The June national party Congress promises to be stormy, with the organisation fragmenting.

The viability of sustaining an independent Green Party in France is now in doubt. Their electorate, described as BoBo – bourgeois-bohemian – with much of its base in Fair Trade buying, ecological sensitive, socially liberal, sections of the urban middle classes, crosses over with the PS’s. It is suggested that the Socialists will attempt to capture what they can of the EELV and, in line with long-standing practice with small groups in its periphery, reduce it to a satellite of the party. The evolution of the overtly ‘social liberal’ German Die Grünen appears probable for the section of the ELEV that is now prepared to co-operate with the market friendly Valls. Without, it must be said, much of the liberalism – as indicated by the resignation of the human rights defender, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. Those who worked with the FdG in the Regional elecitons may well feel that they want a more clearly independent left-wing party.

To the left of the Socialists the Front de gauche (FdG) is also in trouble. Less than brilliant results in November have not prevented Jean-Luc Mélenchon from announcing, off his own back, his Presidential candidacy. He hopes to repeat, if not better, his score as candidate in 2012 when he obtained 11% of the vote. But with time pressing he had no time for the difficult negotiations for the wider left backing that marked that campaign. Like the EELV Ministers he did not consult his partners in that left Bloc. Mélenchon states that now he does not need the permission of any party to stand.

The Parti Communiste Français (PCF) was swift to point out this lack of consultation. (Jean-Luc Mélenchon prend un raccourci vers l’élection présidentielle. L’Humanité.12.2.15). It bypassed their attempts to organise a « primary » of all the left to select a Presidential challenger. Support for this idea, opposed equally by Fançois Hollande, has drawn fierce criticism from PM Valls. He dismisses critics of his government’s multiple failures – unable to reduce unemployment – the refusal to accept more than 30,000 Syrian refugees, and legitimate concerns about civil liberties that do not come from those who could be accused of complacency towards Islamist Reaction – as the views of the « irreconcilable » left unable to represent the « general interest » (Manuel Valls trace une frontière à l’intérieur d’une gauche «irréconciliable» Libération. 16.2.15)

The other relatively significant section of the FdG, Ensemble, (an alliance of the radical left, including Trotskyists and self-management red/green tendencies) does not wish to burn the bridges with Mélenchon and calls for a new political vehicle for the left. Its spokesperson, Clémentine Autain, observes that this act has « buried » the Front de gauche. This view is shared by the former comrades of many Ensemble members, the Nouveau Parti anti-capitaliste (NPA), who, no doubt in great sadness, saw it as the end for this left alliance. (Front de Gauche : Fin de l’histoire en 2017. Sandra Demarq. 10.2.15.)

This decision to act “outside of the structure of parties” was reached on the basis of what can only be called unbridled ambition. Mélenchon is the leader of a small party, the Parti de gauche (PG) of a few thousand members, little more than a political ‘club’ of ‘friends’ of a faction chief, of a type well known inside his former home, the PS. French comrades do not describe their self-importance with warmth. The PCF has over 120,000 card-carriers, a real union base, and, perhaps more significantly, the votes of those elected officials needed for a Presidential nomination. It might not please our British or other European left friends, but the PCF is a serious force on the French left with a decent left-wing programme, which in contrast to its UK counterpart, stands for a social Europe and, in recent years, has taken action, for democratic and social rights.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon as Saviour?

Philippe Marlière, a former Mélenchon supporter, describes his political evolution as La chevènementisation de Jean-Luc Mélenchon » (Medipart. 15.2.15.) Marlière refers to the 1970s leader of the PS left, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who has made the journey from Marxist inflected plans for workers’ control and a nationalised economy, to his present ” republican” defence of French national sovereignty. His article, which has received wide coverage, talks of the PdG chief’s windy generalisations, his ‘self-parody’ in the role of a lone fighter.  Mélenchon has become a “souverainiste autoritaire ” out to defend the citizens of France from their domestic and foreign foes.

Instead of a left of ” social transformation”, or of class struggle, the leader of the PG, as Caesar,  has taken to addressing the French People. Mélenchon’s denounces the political ‘caste’ (echoing Podemos). He claims that the source of national problems lies in European Treaties. The campaign calls for a “citizen revolution” to create a New Republic. On this basis he built up a fan base amongst Internauts (40,000 supporters on his site) and the campaign (here)  claims over 200 local groups of supporters. Polls give him over 10% favourable opinions. But…we shall see. The Inrocks (16.2.15.) comments that the Mélenchon launch on Monday, filled with histrionic rhetoric, bore comparison with the 2012 campaign. It illustrated Marx’s comments on the repetition of history, first as Tragedy, Second time as Farce.

From the Socialists to the FdG, to this Populist splash, the French Left looks as if it will be unable to win in 2017.

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In the next article the Tendance will turn to the roots of the failures of the French radical left, from the FdG to the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, passing by the great bust up in the ‘Lambertist’ current.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Presidential at Paris ‘Plan B’ for Europe Anti-Austerity Rally.

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https://fdg13.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/discours-plan-b-en-europe-euro-jean-luc-melenchon.png?w=220&h=126&crop=1

L’ère du peuple: The era of the People. 

At the sommet pour un Plan B en Europe in Paris over the Weekend in Paris Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who scored 11.05% of the vote in the first round of the French 2012 Presidential elections, is reported to be already gearing up for the 2016 contest.

Le Monde reports,

On Wednesday, on his blog, he explained that “the European Union remains harmful, hostile to democracy and social justice”. He developed these remarks in a small room of the Maison de la Chimie (7 th district of Paris), where he expounded the view that “in the context of the European fiscal treaty, no progressive policies are possible” and called for “break” within the framework of  the current treaties. In passing, he denounced the EU’s “rhetoric” of  “Europe that protects” noting the  “failures” of the EU in the refugee crisis.

The meeting brought together academics, researchers – largely from other European countries,  and a few not very well-known representatives of other left-wing parties such as Podemos, Izquierda Unida, the Greek Popular Unity group, The Danish Red-Green Party, Die Linke, including the respected figure of Oskar Lafontaine,

You can watch  and hear Mélenchon’s concluding speech here:

A notable absence was that of  Yanis Varoufakis. The former Greek Finance Minister was, it was claimed, unable to attend because of diary problems.

Varoufakis is engaged in a much broader pan-European movement against austerity , a ‘Plan C’. This will be launched in Berlin in February: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM 25, Plan C.

Here is a full list of participants (in English)  and more details: Internationalist Summit for a Plan B in Europe.

The people addressing the  session entitled, Win back our economic sovereignty included Morvan Burel who backs a return to ‘Popular sovereignty’ in place of the European Union.

Last April Burel  wrote this on the Front National’s demands: La reconquête de la souveraineté des peuples doit devenir le cœur battant de la gauche

…sortie immédiate de l’euro, rupture avec l’UE, rétablissement des frontières nationales, retour du protectionnisme, etc.

Il est capital pour la gauche radicale de ne pas refuser de s’emparer de ces revendications précisément parce que le Front national les a intégrées à son discours.

,,immediately leaving the Euro, breaking with the European Union, reestablishment of national borders, a return to protectionism. It is essential that the radical left does not refuse these demands simply because the Front National has woven them into its discourse. “

French speakers included members of Mélenchon’s own Parti de Gauche and Cédric Durand, an economist and part of Ensemble, the ‘third’ component of the Front de Gauche.

The French Communist Party (Parti communiste français. PCF) did not participate in the rally.

On Saturday Le Monde published a report on negotiations for the French 2017 Presidential campaign between forces to the left of the Parti Socialiste (Mélenchon peaufine sa candidature pour 2017 – full article read in print edition). While noting that Mélenchon continued to score well in opinion polls (over 15% favourable opinions, January 2015), his populism, calls for a ‘democratic revolution’, hostility to the European Union that focuses on German power, and many of his  personal traits are not universally popular amongst his partners on the left.

Mélenchon, a fluent Spanish speaker, has close links with the Latin American left and with Spain’s Podemos. Like the latter he has sought inspiration in left populism. In these respects his discussions with Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe are of great interest  Populisme et hégémonies culturelles : débat Laclau-Mouffe-Mélenchon (2012).

During the round table debate with the academic theorists of the “radical democratic imaginary” the  Parti de gauche’s use of national symbols, including the French Flag, and references to the French Revolution which dot his appeals to a new democratic Revolution featured prominently  (See also: L’ère du peuple. 2014).  How far this populism can go is not always clear. In 2015 his book,  Le Hareng de Bismarck, le poison allemand, which attacked German ‘arrogance’ was strongly criticised for nationalism (L’Allemagne n’est pas notre ennemie).

The Communists note that one ‘anti-system’ Populist candidate, Marine Le Pen, already exists. There is little space for another.

There is continued  talk of a break up of the Front de gauche alliance between the PCF and Mélenchon.

Le Parti de gauche veut Jean-Luc Mélenchon comme candidat puis élaborer un programme, le parti communiste veut faire naître un projet d’une réflexion collective avant toute désignation: leurs stratégies pour 2017 semblent à ce stade irréconciliables.

The Parti de gauche wants Jean-Luc Mélenchon as a (Presidential) candidate, and then they will work out a programme. The Communist Party want a project born out of a collective process of careful consideration before any candidate is chosen: their strategies ap[pear at this point irreconcilable.

Libération. 23rd of January.

 

You can read more of Mélenchon’s ideas here, on his blog modestly titled, L’ère du peuple: The era of the People. 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 25, 2016 at 5:55 pm

France: After the Regional Elections, Will the Front de gauche break up?

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Mélenchon: With Spring, Flowers Bloom.

Left Front Rethinking.

Extracts. 

The Communist Party spokesman Olivier Dartigolles stated on Monday that the Front de gauche (Left Front) had “got it wrong” and would “review everything from top to bottom”. L’Humanité.

“The Left Front was created precisely to avoid what has happened right in front of our eyes in these regional elections, so it’s a failure, we have to review everything from top to bottom,” warned the leading Communist. He said that they could not “start again as if nothing had happened” and talked about “complete overhaul of the Front de gauche”. As for working with the former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he announce that his party had not closed the door on the chief of the Parti de gauche, saying that “there will need everyone”. He preferred nevertheless the idea of “bringing millions of people into battle.”

“Olivier Dartigolles continued, that following statements of Parti Socialist General Secretary Christophe Cambadélis that they would finally have a debate on fundamental policies. He hoped that there would be an opening of this discussion  “with those that the PS, and they are many, who do not want… (Note: that is existing government strategy)…) and everyone’s on their left. ” “I would also include the trade union left, associative and intellectual forces,” he added, but “certainly not” Emmanuel Macron. ” (Economics Minister).

There are long-standing tensions between Jean Luc Mélenchon and the other parties and groups in the Front de gauche – particularly over the PCF’s agreements with the Parti Socialiste in elections. More here: Après les régionales, le Front de gauche en voie de dislocation.

In the Regional election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon refused to give a recommendation on who to vote for in second round contests, that pitted the Front National against Sarkozy’s Les Républicains. (Régionales : Jean-Luc Mélenchon ne veut donner aucune consigne de vote pour les deuxièmes tours LR-FN).

Mélenchon has called for a “ véritable front populaire ”

In a lyrical Blog post after the Regional election results Mélenchon writes, “Que vienne l’heure du peuple !” – May the Time of the People Come!

He ends,

Mais je le dis avec espoir : à proportion du danger que vous avez vécu, vous savez que vous êtes appelés dorénavant à prendre votre part à l’autre bataille démocratique qui dorénavant s’avance avec l’élection présidentielle. Il faut qu’elle soit l’heure du peuple contre l’oligarchie, l’heure du rassemblement pour une république qui ne se contente pas de débiter comme un moulin sa devise mais qui fasse vivre réellement l’aspiration à l’égalité et à la fraternité autant qu’a la liberté. Je sais, mes chers compatriotes, que nous avançons dans l’hiver. Mais je sais aussi que toujours le printemps revient. Toujours. Et avec lui, les fleurs et la promesse de leurs fruits. »

But I say this with hope: after the dangers that you have lived through, you know that  as the presidential election gets nearer, you are called to take your part in a democratic battle. This contest must be the time of the people against the oligarchy, the time of joining together for a republic that does not reduce its motto to phrase-mongering,  but brings into reality the aspirations to equality, to fraternity as well as liberty. I know, my beloved countrymen and women, that we are in the middle of winter. But I also know that spring always returns. Always. And with it, flowers bloom with the promise of fruit.

Mélenchon scored 11.05% in the 2012 Presidential election (first round) as the candidate of the Front de gauche (FdG). He is the founder of the Parti de gauche, (PdG) a split from the French Socialist party.

The original FdG bloc included the Parti communiste français (PCF) the Parti de gauche (PG) of Jean-Luc MélenchonRépublique et socialisme, the Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (FASE), Convergences et alternative, Le Parti communiste des ouvriers de France the Gauche anticapitaliste (GA), Les Alternatifs.

At present the PCF, the Parti de gauche, and Ensemble (which regrouped a number of the above organisations together), are the FdG’ s main components.

The Parti de Gauche has been accused of having as its principal preoccupation preparing Mélenchon’s bid for the Presidential contest of 2017.

In January 2014 the PdG totaled 9,000 members, but only 1,700 activists participated in the voting for their annual conference platforms this year. They have serious internal differences on the Euro, with a strong minority calling for France to leave the Eurozone and relations with other sections of the Front de Gauche over electoral agreements with the Parti Socialiste (the party the organisation originated in).

In the Regional elections that just took place the Parti de Gauche obtained 7 councillors.

The PCF has around 130,000 members, and around 29 regional councillors.

While the FdG has its serious problems, it is doubtful if the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste’s response to these results (from a party unable to stand in these elections) will receive any echo whatsoever,

These elections have shown that there is no political representation for the exploited. For the world of labour, the most urgent task is to build the mobilizations, return to the path of struggle: for lifting the state of emergency, which has had the practical effect of silencing the social movement around COP21, Air France, against the NDDL airport, for the defence of migrants, etc. More than that, the building of an anti-capitalist political alternative, a new emancipatory project, remains more relevant than ever.

NPA. Montreuil 13 December 2015

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Front National Win in First Round of French Regional Elections: an Analysis.

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Front National: National Preference.

France 24.

France’s far-right National Front (FN) party rode a wave of fear over immigration and terrorism to storm to a commanding position in the first round of voting in the country’s high-stakes regional elections on Sunday.

The anti-immigration party led by Marine Le Pen scored around 28 percent of the vote nationally and topped the list in at least six of 13 regions, according to final estimates from the interior ministry.

The FN came ahead of both former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains (formerly the UMP), which earned 27 percent, and President François Hollande’s Socialists, with 23.5 percent, official estimates showed.

Le Pen and her 25-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen broke the symbolic 40 percent mark in their respective regions, shattering previous records for the party as they tapped into voter anger over a stagnant economy and security fears.

The polls were held under tight security in the first national vote since Islamic State group terrorists killed 130 people in a wave of attacks across Paris on November 13.

Despite its commanding position, the FN now faces a tougher battle in a second round of voting next Sunday after the Socialists announced they were withdrawing candidates in three regions in a bid to block the far right from power.

Progression of Front National.

Le Monde states that the Front National (FN) totaled 6 million votes in the first round.

The real importance of this result gives Marine Le Pen’s party a chance to normalise and streamline its presence,

The Financial Times cites this,

James Shields, professor of French politics at Aston University said: “These results are a shock but they shouldn’t be a surprise.

“What Marine Le Pen wants above all is a chance to show that her party can govern more than a medium-sized town. For that, a region with several million inhabitants offers a perfect testing-ground, giving her party time to deliver some results before the presidential and legislative elections of 2017.”

The Front National has talked of the “suicide collectif du PS” – the group suicide of the Socialist Party.

The far-right won in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, one of the birthplaces of the French labour movement, and the socialist and Communist left. Over the last few months there have been many reports on growth of the FN the area, including a whole series on the radio station France-Culture. As the political scientist Jean-Yves Camus states, “C’est une région à forte tradition ouvrière, victime de désindustrialisation, de délocalisations, de chômage de masse et de fermetures d’entreprises,” It’s a region with a strong working class tradition, the victim of de-industrialisation, the delocalisation of companies, mass unemployment and business closures.”

Languedoc-Roussillon Midi-Pyrénées was another region affected: the birthplace (Castres) of Jean Jaurès (1849 – 1914) the leader of twentieth century French socialism. It was where he received his first Parliamentary mandate, backed by the miners of Carmaux. Jaurès was assassinated in 1914 by a sympathiser of the extreme right, precursors of the Front National.

There is little doubt that spreading anxiety about Islam played a part in the elections. But the FN’s breakthrough cannot be simply attributed to fear in the wake of the Paris murders and Marine Le Pen’s leadership’s (not to mention their activists) attempts to spread hatred against Muslims.

Its  strategy has been to campaign and stir up hatred against all foreigners, beginning with those running the European Union (EU). The message, given very clearly in the poster above, is that outsiders are out to get the French, take their jobs, their homes and undermine their living standards.

The party demands that France leaves the Euro, and that “priorité nationale”(or La préférence national) be given to French nationals in employment. Jobs will be given to those with French nationality in preference to anybody else (Les entreprises se verront inciter à prioriser l’emploi, à compétences égales, des personnes ayant la nationalité française). This also means – in terms very close to those proposed by the David Cameron’s government, that social benefits, from housing onwards, are taken away from migrant workers and immigrants. It demands an end to “massive immigration” and free movement in Europe. The FN denounces immigration as “une arme au service du grand capital” (a weapon of Big Business), an apparently ‘anti-capitalist’ position They propose to limit legal immigration 10,000 a year.  Being born in France will no longer mean automatically acquiring French nationality.

If the FN claim to support ” laïcité” and to support “assimilation” of different cultures into France this is on the basis of the «racines chrétiennes de la France», Christian roots of France (sometimes «judéo-chrétiennes») – at odds with the universalism of humanist values which have no such unique roots.

The Front National has also worked UKIP and British tabloid territory in spreading scare stories about benefits and housing for migrants and refugees. They even include the principle that demonstrations in favour of illegal migrants are forbidden. and that anti-French racism is  recognised as  an aggravating factor in criminal offences (1)

The measures the FN propose imply a disengagement from the EU and a return to full national sovereignty. In some respects the FN’s ideas have an echo across a wide spectrum of political currents, including a section of the left. The FN does not simply attack the EU and the effects of globalisation. They stand for ‘sovereignty’, restoring what they claim should be the full power of the ‘nation’. This, known in France as “souverainisme” (soveriegntism)  is  embraced equally vociferously  in the United Kingdom by those urging leaving the EU. Like the British Conservatives they are also hostile to the European Convention on Human Rights.

For the FN this is wider than a political demand.  It is tied to a wider programme of economic protectionism. These economics are more widely shared than in the UK. Emmanuel Todd  – known in the English-speaking world for his scorn against the Je Suis Charlie movement – is a long standing supporter of “intelligent protectionism”. He, like the FN,  is anti-Euro and goes so far to find inspiration in the German nationalist protectionist Frederich List.

Many of the FN’s national policies may be classed as pure demagogy. For their working class and “popular” electorate the FN  propose to raise the minimum wage, benefits, notably pensions,  (for French citizens), and put controls on the price of  gas, electricity, transport and petrol. (Le Front national, cette imposturele Monde. 4.12.15.)

The governing Parti Socialiste has been unable to offer much in the way of making life better for those out of work in regions like Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie – the national unemployment rate stands at a  stubborn 10,2%. In this northern area unemployment amongst the young is at  31,8 %.

These economic issues, rather than identity or religion, are also at the heart of the failure of the Parti socialiste to continue to win overwhelming support from those of a Muslim background. Le Monde (4.12.15.) reports that it is not opposition to gay marriage or to teaching gender equality in schools – issues on which a number of organised Islamic groups made common cause with the conservative Christian right – which has affected their voting behaviour. It is the inability of President Hollande, and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls to improve their living conditions which has struck home.

The complicated alliance of the Socialists’ left opponents in the left-wing Greens (EELV) and the Front de gauche make it hard to decipher their national score of 10 to 11 % (sometimes aligned together, sometimes not), although it is clear that the Green vote has almost halved (l’Humanité). To to predict where and if there will be agreements with the PS is equally hard.

On the far-left the results are negligible. The Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) was too weak to present its own lists and backed Lutte ouvrière who obtained  320 054 votes nationally  (1,5 %)

The Socialists meanwhile are discussing – and arguing about – possible agreements with other forces for the second round.

Sarkozy’s Les Républicains (LR) have just announced that they will refuse to enter into any alliances with the other parties.

The French political class – and all those dependent on the decisions and funding of the French Regions – will soon have to face up to the Front National with its hands on some levers of power.

Indications that initial flash points will concern exactly the allocation of the regional funds.

Left reaction:  Communiqué de Ensemble! Contre le Front national et la droite, il faut un sursaut à gauche !

Political scientists’ analysis: «Le FN réussit à incarner le vote utile contre la gauche»

Le vote Front national devient « un vote de plus en plus national » et « inter-classiste ». C’est ce qu’estiment cinq chercheurs de l’Observatoire des radicalités politiques (ORAP) de la fondation Jean Jaurès. Dans une analyse fine des résultats, ils mettent en évidence « l’hégémonie culturelle » de l’extrême droite, l’échec de la « stratégie Buisson » de la droite et l’aveuglement de la gauche.

Their voters are more and more national (and not locally based), and cross-class. They decsibre the “cultural hegemony” of the far-right and failure of the right (LR, Sarkozy) to capture their electorate by their own nationalist rhetoric and cultural conservatism (Buisson, one of his main advisers), and the blindness of the left.

You can read this (downloaded paper) for free:  Le « nouveau » Front national en question. Alexandre Dézé April 2015.

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(1)  Front National programme: Immigration Stopper l’immigration, renforcer l’identité française: “Les manifestations de clandestins ou de soutien aux clandestins seront interdites.

– Le racisme anti-Français comme motivation d’un crime ou d’un délit sera considéré comme une circonstance particulièrement aggravante et alourdira la peine encourue.”

French Trotskyist Current, the Gauche Unitaire (Picquet Tendency), Joins the French Communist Party (PCF).

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A formal statement has just been issued announcing that Gauche Unitaire (GU), which has a long background in Fourth International Trotskyism, and whose best known figure, Christian Picquet, has been a leading figure in the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, will engage in a process of ‘regroupment’ inside the Parti Communiste Français (PCF).

The Gauche Unitaire was created from a small grouping inside the LCR which opposed to the formation of the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA) in 2009. The immediate cause of the split was the refusal of the NPA to join forces with the PCF and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche in a common list for the European elections in 2009.

The background was long-standing disagreement with the NPA’s belief that “between us and the Parti Socialiste’ there is nothing’ – an assertion hard to justify when the PCF retained over 200,000 members and the closely aligned union federation, the Confédération générale du travail (CGT), continued to show an unwillingness to disappear.Behind this it is said that Piquet and his comrades’ turn to a more “centrist” republican democratic socialism cut them off from the belief inside the NPA that the time had come for a radical new movement riding high on the anti-globalisation protests (if one can remember them…..).

The “Picquet Tendency” became the Gauche Unitaire. It was a founding member of the Front de gauche (FdG) the social and electoral bloc of these forces that present united lists for that Euro contest, and subsequent French national and local elections.

Another group which emerged out of the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, equally critical of its ambition to incarnate on is own, the radical left, was the closely related Convergence and alternative. This now forms part of the ‘third’ pillar of the FdG)  Ensemble .

The Gauche Unitaire identifies itself as democratic socialist, republican, anti-capitalist, and has been a supporter of French laïcité.

It considers that the left needs to change society by ” mobilisations sociales prolongées et de consultations populaires” – in other words, grass roots, trade union and civil society activity, combined with democratic electoral advances.

It is no secret that Tendance Coatesy has very similar views.

Over the last year the Gauche Unitaire has run into difficulty inside the Front de Gauche. A majority of its members have joined Ensemble (which groups together many people with radical left, democratic socialist and feminist ideas, including the ‘self-management’ and left-Green current Les Alternatifs: see more on their site here). GU had formally withdrawn with the FdG over disputes about eligible places on European election lists. It is thought that the group at present is down to well below 100 members.

A declaration announcing the decision for the GU to join the PCF  is in  l’Humanité and Piquet’s blog today.

There will be a joint press conference tomorrow.

 Point presse Pierre Laurent et Christian Piquet
Jeudi 10 septembre à 13h
Siège du PCF – 2, place du Colonel Fabien

Christian Piquet’s Blog:

mercredi 9 septembre 2015

Une déclaration commune du PCF et de Gauche unitaire

Ce 8 septembre aura marqué une date importante. Dans l’histoire de la gauche autant que dans celle de la coalition à laquelle nous participions jusqu’alors… Le Parti communiste français et Gauche unitaire ont en effet officialisé le processus qui les amène à se regrouper aujourd’hui au sein du PCF.

Une page est ainsi tournée, celle qui avait vu Gauche unitaire, en 2009, se constituer en parti à partir du courant unitaire du Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, regrouper très vite des hommes et des femmes issus de diverses traditions, et devenir cofondatrice du Front de gauche. Les évolutions de la situation française, les immenses périls qui pèsent sur la gauche et le monde du travail, la situation pour le moins difficile du Front de gauche (sur laquelle j’ai eu maintes occasions de m’exprimer ici) ont amené les militantes et militants de GU, lors du III° Congrès de l’organisation, en juin dernier, à considérer que l’heure était au regroupement, et non plus à la dispersion, à l’éparpillement, à l’entretien de différences n’ayant guère de sens en regard des enjeux décisifs du moment politique présent.

Les convergences entre nos camarades communistes et nous-mêmes n’ayant cessé de se confirmer au fil des années, c’est donc un choix de responsabilité qu’a fait Gauche unitaire. Sur les réseaux sociaux, un journaliste a constaté que cette décision contrastait avec les fragmentations, polémiques brumeuses, claquages de portes obscures, rivalités d’égos ou scission qui rythment la vie du camp progressiste et contribuent surtout à démoraliser celles et ceux qui attendraient plutôt des perspectives d’espoir. Il a parfaitement raison ! Ce jeudi 10 septembre, à l’issue du conseil national du PCF, appelé à se prononcer à son tour, Pierre Laurent et moi-même présenteront à la presse l’aboutissement du processus de rapprochement engagé ces derniers mois. J’aurai ensuite l’occasion de revenir ici sur ce qui m’a motivé, avec mes camarades, dans la volonté d’écrire une nouvelle page du combat pour que la gauche redevienne la gauche. Je reproduis déjà, ci-dessous, la déclaration conjointe de nos deux partis.

« Nos deux organisations ont en commun de puiser au meilleur de la pensée humaine, de l’apport des Lumières, des idéaux mis en avant par la Révolution française, de l’action de Jaurès en faveur de la République sociale. Elles se revendiquent, face à un capitalisme dont la cupidité n’a cessé de grandir, de l’apport irremplaçable de Marx, qui avait choisi le mot de communisme pour désigner le mouvement même d’abolition de l’ordre existant. Si l’histoire tourmentée du XX° siècle a profondément meurtri, et même dévoyé, cette belle promesse de « mise en commun » s’opposant à la concurrence de tous contre tous, il s’agit à présent de la réhabiliter afin de rouvrir enfin à l’humanité un horizon d’espérance. Par-delà leurs histoires propres, leurs traditions politiques respectives, la manière dont ils ont pu appréhender le passé, le Parti communiste français et Gauche unitaire ont pu vérifier, à la chaleur du travail réalisé conjointement, qu’ils se retrouvaient dans une commune volonté de reconstruire une perspective crédible et ambitieuse de transformation sociale.

« Cela fait ainsi de nombreuses années que nos deux formations constatent leur convergence de vues. Elles portent une identique appréciation sur les menaces que font peser les politiques libérales sur l’avenir de la planète et sur la paix, sur les droits sociaux et conquêtes populaires, sur les politiques publiques garantes de la cohésion de notre société, sur les fondements mêmes de la République en France, sur les équilibres écologiques. Elles s’opposent de même aux orientations mises en œuvre par François Hollande et Manuel Valls qui, loin de rompre avec l’orthodoxie austéritaire et le pouvoir de la finance, s’efforcent de satisfaire les désidératas du grand patronat, tournant le dos à la majorité populaire qui avait rendu possible la victoire remportée sur Nicolas Sarkozy en 2012.

Elles mesurent également le risque que la situation de très grave crise sociale et politique que connaît notre pays ne profite à une droite dure et revancharde, avide d’en finir avec tout ce qu’il subsiste du programme du Conseil national de la Résistance. Elles s’inquiètent tout particulièrement de constater que le découragement et l’écœurement qui s’emparent de larges secteurs de la population font aujourd’hui le lit du Front national, de ses idées de haine et de son programme de discriminations.

Elles réaffirment, dans cette situation de grands périls, la nécessité de faire grandir l’exigence d’une autre politique, pour rassembler de nouveau la gauche sur un nouveau projet social et démocratique, et lui permettre de retrouver le chemin du peuple. Elles agissent dans ce cadre pour que le Front de gauche soit un instrument au service d’un tel rassemblement de la gauche sur la base d’un changement complet de cap, qu’il soit à même d’agir efficacement pour une nouvelle majorité de gauche et un gouvernement qui répondent aux attentes de nos concitoyens. Elles se retrouvent, s’agissant des prochaines élections régionales, autour de la nécessité de favoriser les rassemblements les plus larges, aux premiers et seconds tours, à partir de propositions audacieuses récusant la logique de l’austérité nationale, condition pour battre la droite et l’extrême droite, garder à gauche le plus grand nombre de Régions, aboutir à de nouveaux contrats majoritaires à la tête de celles-ci.

« À partir de ces constats, au vu de l’ampleur des défis qu’il s’agit désormais de relever, et en fonction de l’appréciation portée sur ses six années d’action au sein du Front de gauche dont elle est l’une des trois composantes fondatrices, le III° Congrès de Gauche unitaire, fin juin 2015, a considéré que l’heure n’était plus à l’émiettement et à l’éparpillement des forces travaillant à ouvrir une nouvelle perspective pour la gauche. Elle a donc décidé de regrouper ses forces avec celles du Parti communiste français au sein de ce dernier. À la suite des discussions positives ayant eu lieu tout l’été avec la direction du PCF et des échanges, tout aussi positifs, entre militants des deux formations, cette décision a été définitivement ratifiée les 5 et 6 septembre par les délégués des sections de Gauche unitaire, réunis à Paris.

« Le regroupement sera effectif après qu’à son tour la réunion du conseil national du PCF, qui se tiendra le jeudi 10 septembre, en soit saisie.

« Pierre Laurent et Christian Picquet présenteront le même jour à la presse, à 13h, le sens de ce regroupement.

« À la fête de L’Humanité, l’aboutissement de ce processus sera présenté aux participants, à l’occasion d’une rencontre publique qui se tiendra sur le stand du conseil national du PCF, le samedi 12 septembre à 12h.

« Dès la semaine qui suivra la fête de L’Humanité notre rassemblement sera alors totalement effectif au niveau des sections et fédérations concernées, ainsi qu’au conseil national et au comité exécutif national du PCF. »

No I am not going to translate this heavy bloc of left-wing prose, apart from anything else most of the words are the same in English.

 

Political Confusion on the European Union Gains Ground on the Left: Jacques Sapir and the Front National.

with 8 comments

Selling Your Soul to Mr. Putin

Jacques Sapir: Red/Brown Alliance Against European Union. 

There is an excellent French Blog site which deals in “political confusionism”.

Back in July it picked up on a development that’s hit the headlines in France over the last few days: the call by “left” economist Jacques Sapir for an alliance with the Front National. (JACQUES SAPIR, UN HOMME DE GAUCHE ?).

Like many people (including we note floating voter Tariq Ali who got a column in Le Monde recently hinting darkly at ‘the left’ turning against Europe) he is claiming that the crisis in Greece shows the need for a left-wing anti-European Union stand.

Sapir has gone one stage further than the NO2EU UK left and indicated that he would be favourable to this:

 L’économiste «hétérodoxe» préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

Like certain British Labour politicians he has a fondness for evoking memories of the Resistance.

Sapir gave the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR) as his model.

Sapir is no unknown: a prominent economist, and Director of the Centre d’études des modes d’industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), he has been close to the Front de Gauche, to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche and to the “sovereigntist” former Socialist Minister (and leader of the left tendency inside the Parti Socialiste, CERES), Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

On the Confusionisme site  Ornella Guyet adds,

Prominent in the current debate surrounding the Greek crisis, a prominent supporter of  “de-globalization” – whose theories inspired the Arnaud Montebourg’s (1) discourse on the question – he is also an expert on Russia, known for his softness towards  the Putin regime, equally famous for his careerism, his homophobia and his alliances with the far right in Europe. His site Russeurope, given legitimacy by legitimized by its academic pretensions Jacques Sapir is a frequent guest of  the salons of the Russian embassy, ​​as well as seminars of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank based in Paris to promote the image of Putin’s Russia in Europe. Not surprisingly, we find his name in several pro-Kremlin media, Voice of Russia and Sputnik News.

More recently, obsessed by the Euro, he has become ever closer to the “sovereigntists” of the Right:  the groupuscule Debout la République

Sapir claims that the Front National has “changed” from its far-right origins, and that in any case he was talking about an alliance of the right and left involving a party that has “come from” this transformed FN.

Immediate reaction on the left to Sapir’s ideas was not favourable.

Eric Coquerel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s close ally,  called this strategy “an aberration”. He continued, “Given the scale of the current crisis, we must offer an alternative to  fascist and xenophobic reactions. Their nation is not ours. ”  Clémentine Autain (Ensemble), a leader of the Left Front  has said that “The phenomenon is not massive…but it  gives credibility to the FN . “

It is however well known that Mélenchon’s party is openly flirting with the idea of a “Plan B”, that is, leaving the Euro, “if a renegotiation of EU treaties fails .”

They plan an “internationalist summit for Plan B” to be held in late 2015 which bring together those in the like minded  “left” who agree to work together on the subject. (More here)

Sovereigntism, that is the belief that the “nation” has the supreme right to decide “its” fate – faced with international forces, from the European Union to NATO – appears to be gaining ground on the British left as well. The collapse of sections of the left to the belief that Scotland would be better off governed by its “ain folk”  in the SNP was one indication. After the Greek crisis, anti-European Union voices have become louder, promoting perhaps a return to a belief in a road to socialism outside of the EU.

At a time when fear of ‘foreigners’ – migrant workers, refugees in particular – is reaching an all-time high in Europe, playing with nationalism seems a dangerous gamble.

(1) Left-wing of the Parti Socialiste. Montebourg scored  17,19 % in the first round of the open PS French Presidential “primaries” of the party, which involved 2,700,000 voters who signed a declaration saying the backed the values of the left – without anybody wetting themselves about “infiltration”.

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) rejects any Electoral Unity with the Front de Gauche (FdG).

with one comment

 

No Syriza Style Left Unity for NPA. 

At its weekend – 3rd – Congress the majority of the NPS has decided to “turn the page” on electoral discussions with the different groupings in the Front de gauche (FdG).

From Libération (adapted).

If the NPA will join alongside the FdG “in struggles” there is no longer any question of talks with them about electoral alliances.

For the coming departmental and regional elections of 2015, and for the 2017 Presidential elections, the NPA will not ally with the Front de gauche, said Ludovic Wolfgang, spokesperson for the new majority. We will not discuss with them the possibility or not of presenting a candidate.

He did not rule out an agreement with Lutte Ouvrière for the Presidential elections.

“This will send a very bad message to the outside world ” said Sandra Demarcq, of platform 1,  in the minority, who proposed a less inflexible stand towards the FdG.

This minority platform was signed by Olivier Besancenot, former Presidential candidate (2007 –  first round,  1.2 million votes, 4.25%).

At its formation in 2009 the NPA had over 9,000 members. After splits which have seen hundreds join the Front de Gauche (from the Gauche Unitaire, ‘Picquet Tendency’ to Convergences et Alternative the Gauche anticapitaliste, the latter two now part of Ensemble)  the  NPA has shrunk to 2,100 members.

AFP

The motion against national unity states, “Le mouvement ouvrier doit refuser de faire bloc autour du gouvernement dans une prétendue lutte commune pour la liberté d’expression, qu’il musèle, et contre le terrorisme, dont il favorise l’expansion.

The workers’ movement must refuse to rally behind the government and its claim to defend freedom of expression – which it muzzles, and its campaign against terrorism, which it had helped promote.  

Rejecting national unity is fine, it is not the left’s job to support a union sacrée.

But it is disappointing that the NPA appears bent on adopting an “anglo-saxon” (more exactly a ‘post-colonial’ and liberal ‘multicultural’)  stand on anti-racism, with the use of the word ‘Islamophobia” – which conflates political and social criticism of Islamism with hatred of Muslim individuals – creeping in. While the NPA has carried articles on hatred against Jewish people, the motion on this issue studiously marginalises Antisemitism – the motive for the attack and murders at the Kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes. That is, while mentioning this hatred as a cause of this slaughter, it refuses to make the struggle against Antisemitism – unlike the issue of hostility to Muslims – part of the NPA’s campaign against national unity.

Furthermore in its motion of feminism (see comment by Julien Gousse) below) it defends sexist Islamic dress codes, ignoring the compulsion behind this religious rule forcing women to be ‘modest’.

The Blog de Julien Gouesse, says this (I have rendered some sentences more idiomatically English)  on the Congrès.

I participated to the third congress of the new anti-capitalist party as a delegate from Friday, January 30th to Sunday, February 1st, 2015 in Saint-Denis. It took place after local, elected, aggregates,  in which 1403 activists were involved amongst about 70% of those who paid their party dues. The texts were on various topics, the profile of the party for the future elections, climate, our feminist intervention, our antifascist action, our analysis of the French (the national unity following the attacks, the Macron law, …) and the international (Syriza, Podemos, Daesh, …) situation, our media system, our security service, our involvement in the unions, … You can find the motion « climate » here. I learned of the launch of the economic work group’s website too.

I’m satisfied with the conference on the whole despite some minor organisational problems. For example, several texts that should have been worked out in the parallel commissions with the agreement of  all participants were given a final form (far from the embarrassment of public scrutiny) in order to force the inclusion of some modifications unacceptable to some delegates.

That’s why I refused to vote for the anti-racist feminist motion that was distributed to us a few minutes before the vote and because of a paragraph that claims that the debate on this issue is resolved in the party whereas it is definitely not the case:. This is what was presented « The defence of women’s right to employment and education is particularly important against the pressure from all sides to put them back to home or unemployment. Wearing the scarf (le foulard – Muslim head covering) mustn’t be an obstacle on this plan« .

I’m mostly relieved that our party will not participate to the next elections with the Left-wing Front. This will not  prevent us from being together in mobilisations.

Finally, I am wholeheartedly with the Greek people and I hope that it will get a lot of social progress through Syriza but the range of possibilities within the institutions is limited, there will be no shortcut in the class struggle, the Greeks will have to remain mobilized and vigilant. Voting for parties totally independent from the social democracy is a good start but will it be enough to get rid of the austerity policies? After the appetiser  the main course remains. I admit that I’m more interested in the Catalonia integral cooperative than in Podemos.

More from the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste on its Conference here.

The same weekend the ex-NPA current, Gauche anticapitaliste has just merged with the Alternatifs, the Fase, and the Communistes unitaires with other smaller groups) in Ensemble. This is now the ‘third major component of the Front de gauche.

Congrès d’Ensemble. L’unité, le Front de gauche et Syriza pour boussoles.