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French Communist Party (PCF) to stand Fabien Roussel as Presidential Candidate in 2022.

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French Communists In Presidential Electoral Bid.

After fifteen years of absence, the Communist Party will again be represented at a presidential  election, in 2022: and it will be Fabien Roussel. More than 82% of eligible members voted in favour of the candidacy of the national secretary of the PCF in an electronic vote which took place from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 April. The vote of these 30,000 members(out of 43,000) confirmed the decision of by the national conference of the PCF, where the party officers (cadres), on April 11 backed this candidacy.  According to the statutes of the party, the last word was to go to the members themselves and now they have voted.

Présidentielle 2022 : Fabien Roussel officiellement candidat pour le Parti communiste. France Info.

Vote des communistes des 7, 8 et 9 mai 2021 sur les choix du PCF pour les élections de 2022

Not long ago this was published in the US left populist magazine Jacobin,

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

On top of all that, 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 electionFor what it’s worth, PCF members have bucked party leadership before: In the fall (autumn) of 2016, they voted to endorse Mélenchon’s campaign, rejecting the national conference’s vote for a PCF candidate.

Cole Strangler.

One understands the wish for left unity, one shared by friends of the French left across the world.

But while there are moves on the French left reach more than a “non agression” pact between themsleves, is as clear as day that many people and groups on the organised French left are not prepared to abandon their own parties and politics to subordinate themselves to Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Libération’s report on the decision notes, “The divorce with Mélenchon is confirmed.”

In an appeal which many would consider disingenuous Mélenchon said on the 4th of May,

TO THE COMMUNISTS This week the Communists will decide if they break the alliance that has united us since 2009 in the elections and present a candidate for the presidential election. Or if they decide to wait to take a stand to see the landscape become clearer. Their decision will be imposed on us and we will have to face the serious consequences that it will inflict on us in the event that the choice is made to break up.

The rest evokes words like “dialogue”, “union” and joint work in ‘struggles’.

Activists observe that Mélenchon and his rally/movement, La France insoumise, is not a party with a democratic structure. Subject to the will and whim of its leader and inner circle, without members, only supporters. Its shifting programme evokes a new ‘era of the people’ a fight against the elites and oligarchs, and LFI has not been above adopting sovereigntist postures, if not worse in contradiction with support for ” l’intérêt général humain.” Mélenchon s unbounded admiration for President François Mitterrand (who helped him, a cadre of the Lambertist Trotskyist Parti communiste internationaliste, OCI) become a Parti Socialiste MP) is not universally shared.

Then there is this, only recently, “While Pierre Roussel was to lead a unitary list including Communists, “LFI” and Socialists, the local leaders of LFI caught him our by a deal with Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV), forcing the entire left to line up behind the ecologist MEP Karima Delli. (Présidentielle 2022 : Fabien Roussel, candidat pour le Parti communiste

Mélenchon continues to believe in Mitterrand and the 1981 victory, backed, he observes, by the French Communists. Unity (‘Union’), that time, he suggests, worked.

The last time the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) stood a candidate, Marie-George Buffet, in 2007 she got 1,93% Opinion polls at present put Roussel at 2%,

Critics still maintain it is too early to announce a candidacy from the left – though that has not stopped Mélenchon.

Today in an interview with Le Monde the Leader of LFI attacks every other group on the French left. The ‘old apparatuses’ (vieux appareils), the Parti Socialiste, social liberals doomed to extinction, Greens, “capitalisme écologique”, Benoît Hamon (Génération. s), nice guy but wrong on Universal Basic Income (his main platform), Communists PCF), they have chosen a diminished role (un rôle diminué.) in politics, other figures: M. Jadot, ni Olivier Faure ou Mme Hidalgo do not want to share their candidacies and have a “common candidacy” (whatever that means…) with him.

HIstory is on his side….

la désagrégation du champ politique produit des effets qui peuvent m’être favorables.

The beak up of the political landscape is producing effects which could be favourable to me.

If this is true, asks the interviewer, who will face you in the second round of the Presidential elections?

Marine Le Pen évidemment. C’est la pente de l’histoire.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon : « Je n’ai pas l’intention de transiger »

Not everybody would agree that this is the likely direction historical events will take.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 11, 2021 at 3:49 pm

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.

100th Anniversary of the Congress of Tours: the Split that Created the French Communist Party.

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Congrès de Tours 1920 - 2020

Congrès de Tours. December 1920.

The Tours Congress was the 18th National Congress of the French Section of the Workers’ International, or SFIO, which took place in Tours on 25–30 December 1920. During the Congress, the majority voted to join the Third International and create the French Section of the Communist International, which became the French Communist Party in 1921.

This was the reaction of tendency which became the French Communist Party, le Parti Communiste Français (PCF).

In December of 1920 the French Socialist Party held a congress in Tours to decide the question of whether or not to join the Communist International. Supported by Marcel Cachin and L.- O. Frossard, and opposed by old-time leader Jules Guesde and the former Dreyfusard and future head of the Popular Front government Léon Blum, the Congress voted overwhelmingly to support entry into the Comintern. L’Humanité, the newspaper founded by Jean Jaurès, and which now became the official organ of the PCF, carried the following account.

Violence is often nothing but the most obvious sign of strong and sincere convictions. So if bourgeois newspapers delight in publishing this morning that “violent incidents” marked yesterday’s meeting of the congress, we have nothing to be surprised about. It’s not in the serenity of academies or tribunals that the destiny of the revolutionary proletariat is decided: it is in the fever and tumult of action.

By 3,252 votes out of 4,763 — a majority of more than two thirds — the Congress of Tours voted for the membership of the Socialist Party in the Communist International. Our emotion is great in writing these lines. At long last French socialism is publicly and solemnly breaking with the out of date traditions of the Second International; with the humiliated, as well as humiliating routine of a purely electoral, purely parliamentary socialism which, under the pressure of historical circumstances, ended up by reducing revolutionary Marxism, which they claimed to be inspired by, to the role of a “king who rules but doesn’t govern.”

The Second International has been dead for a long time — dead since August 4, 1914 — four days after Jaurès. Alas, it was one of those dead who have to be killed. Take off your hat for its remains as they pass by. Let us pledge ourselves to the immense obligation we have assumed to the coming revolution in joining the Communist International.

Marxist Internet Archive.

The response, cinglante, of Léon Blum is so memorable that many of us know many of the original words almost by heart,

The second International Congress held in Moscow last July had the visible appearance of a sort of constituent assembly. (Uproar) My voice is naturally very weak. I am, moreover, very tired, like all of you, and it would be physically impossible for me to surmount, by the strength of my lungs, this tumult and these violent interruptions.

The second International Congress at Moscow had, then, to all appearances, the character of a sort of constituent assembly. In all areas, the doctrinal as well as the tactical, it formulated a set of complementary resolutions. The whole set forms a sort of architectural structure, entirely patterned after a single design, in which every part is related to every other. It is impossible to deny the power and even the majesty of it. You are in the presence of a totality, of a doctrinal ensemble. Thus, the following question is posed: Do you or do you not accept this body of doctrine formulated by the Congress of the Communist International? And to accept – I hope there will be no divergence of opinion on this point – to accept means to accept with mind, heart, and will and with the intention of strictly conforming, in thought and action, to the new doctrine.

Any other kind of adherence would be a comedy, unworthy of the Communist International and unworthy of the French party. You are in the presence of a totality. “There is not even room to quibble over this or that detail. It is a question of looking at the unifying theme, the central idea. It doesn’t much matter if your acceptance entails this or that reservation about a detail. There is no trickery or deception in that. But if you contest the doctrine in its essentials, you really have no right to accept with second thoughts or mental reservations, to say “I agree, but I only pay lip-service, with the conviction that this is nothing but a joke, and that tomorrow the party will continue to live and to act as it did yesterday.” We are all agreed in rejecting such an interpretation. (Applause) The Congress may believe this of us. With an effort at intellectual impartiality and honesty that no one here will deny, we faced the problem squarely and said to ourselves: “Studying the texts of the Communist International, its theses, its statutes” – and I will not dwell on the difficulties and really excessive slowness with which we were given each of the materials under discussion – “can we or can we not accept them?” For us to accept would really mean to accept in the strongest possible sense of the word. We had the duty of making that textual examination.

… What is the result? It is twofold. First of all (and I believe there will be no disagreement about this), we are in the presence of something new. Some have tried to prove the contrary, and perhaps will try again. I remember the meeting of the Federation of the Seine when I was responding to Frossard, who had made the most ingenious and clever effort to combine the communist theses with the traditional principles of the Socialist Party. I tried to show him that those theses reflected a force, a will to construct something new, differing entirely from the essential tenets of the traditional socialism we had until then known and practiced. I remember that the most qualified delegates of the Third International supported me. “It’s true,” they said. “That is what we think; that is what we want. It is a new socialism that we want to create in our country and in the whole proletarian world.” That is what Lenin and Trotsky have said. It is what you yourselves said when returning from Russia. For example, Cachin, in the last letter that he sent from Moscow, spoke of a break with the past. Trotsky, in the most recent document that the Communist Bulletin has published, said that it was a new party.

 What is the new party that you want to create going to be like? Instead of a popular will formed at the base and rising by degrees, your regime of centralization involves the subordination of each organ to the one which is hierarchically above it. It entails an executive committee at the top to which everyone is subordinated, a sort of military chain of command whose orders are formulated at the top and transmitted from one rank to another down to the mere members in their sections. The autonomy of groups and federations? That, the theses will tell you, is a heresy pure and simple and must be excluded from communist organization. … Alongside public organization, underground organization.

In lines that echo throughout the ages, Blum described what a socialist party is,

Your vocation is to gather together all the proletarians of all countries. There is no other limit to the size of the Socialist party than the number of workers and wage-earners. Our Party was therefore a party with as large a recruitment as possible. As such, it was a party of freedom of thought, for the two ideas are necessarily related. If you want to group all workers, all wage-earners, all the exploited in a single party, you can only unite them around simple and general slogans. You will say to them: “All those who want to work to change the economic system, all those who believe, for this is the foundation of Marxism, that there is an ineluctable connection between the development of capitalism on the one hand and that of socialism on the other – all of you are socialists. If you are with us in this task, your act of faith is completed. You are socialists.” Within this credo, this essential affirmation, all varieties and shades of opinion are tolerated. ..

Speech at the Socialist Party Congress at Tours, 27 December 1920

There is an excellent documentary which an algorithm on FB has alerted people to this week.

Congrès de Tours. 1920 : la naissance des deux gauches – Documentaire (12/12/2020)

Watching it, there are not just pictures but newsreel images of the delegates outside the Hall, it is more than striking just how male the participants were.

 

The present General Secretary of the PCF Fabien Roussel is interviewed here, reproduced on in Mediapart.

Congrès de Tours: 100 ans après, le communisme « plus que jamais d’actualité »

Le communisme est « plus que jamais d’actualité face aux crises » sanitaire, économique et sociale, affirme le secrétaire général du PCF Fabien Roussel qui n’écarte pas une candidature communiste en 2022, dans un entretien à l’AFP pour le 100e anniversaire de son parti.

Communism is “more relevant than ever in the face of the present day health, economic and social crises”, says PCF secretary general Fabien Roussel who does not rule out a communist candidacy in 2022, in an interview with AFP for the 100th anniversary of his party.

The PCF got 2,5% of the vote in the 2019 European Elections.

The Tendance wrote, a few years ago, a piece on a recent biography of Léon Blum.

A State Jew? Léon Blum – David A. Bell on Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2020 at 5:55 pm