Posts Tagged ‘Parti Socialiste’
Bad Loser Valls Won’t Back Hamon.
Speculation is growing in France that the most reactionary section of the of the French ‘republican’ right, frustrated by the scandals engulfing their candidate, François Fillon, are preparing to vote Marine Le Pen in the second round of the Presidential elections. Those involved in movements such as “Sens commun“, involved in the anti-gay marriage La Manif pour tous, are said to be preparing to break the “cordon sanitaire” that separates the extreme right Front National from the rest of the right.
The FN’s appeal to rally ” « patriotes » against « mondialistes », globalisers, has been like British support of Brexit, a call that, Le Monde observes today, aims to beak with the old division between ‘right’ and ‘left’ (Jean-Baptiste de Montvalon).
The possible breakthrough in backing for the racist right is just one of the reasons why there is pressure on centrists and social liberals to back Emmanuel Macron.
His own call, aimed at going ‘beyond’ left and right, to unite, “ progressistes » to face « conservateurs » has begun to eat into the right-wing of the Parti Socialiste.
This comes despite the warning that any Socialist who officially supports Macron will be expelled from the Party.
— Philippe Marlière (@PhMarliere) March 13, 2017
France 24 now reports,
Former French prime minister Manuel Valls is not ready to endorse a candidate in the country’s presidential race, after denying reports he intended to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and ruling out support for his rival, Socialist Benoît Hamon.
French daily Le Parisien published an article on Monday citing sources close to Valls as saying he would throw his weight behind Macron in the first round of voting on April 23.
“Manuel Valls will soon call on voters to support his former rival Emmanuel Macron, and this, from as early as the first round of the election,” the newspaper wrote.
But a number of those close to Valls dismissed the report as inaccurate, including his former parliamentary substitute, Carlos Da Silva. “This is false,” Da Silva wrote in a Twitter post linking to Le Parisien’s article.
Valls later confirmed to the AFP that he had “denied this information” through his entourage.
The former prime minister also ruled out the possibility of endorsing Hamon in an interview published by French magazine Paris Match on Tuesday morning. Valls dropped out of the race for the presidency in January after losing to Hamon in the left-wing primaries.
“I cannot lend my support to Benoît Hamon,” he told Paris Match. “Hamon doesn’t inspire interest.”
Valls expressed concern, however, that lack of support for both Macron and Hamon could pave the way to victory for National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen.
“If the FN [scores] high on the night of the first round, things can really finish badly,” he said.
Recent opinion polls show Macron as the front-runner in the election and that he will go on to defeat Le Pen in the second round of voting on May 7, while Hamon will be eliminated in the first round.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Cambadélis‘ warning notwithstanding this is a weasly way in which former French PM Manuel Valls, the loser in the French Socialists’ ‘Primary’ has announced his own public non-voting intentions.
It is now said that the initial claim was ‘false news’. If it is not clear how ‘false’ the claim that he would back Marcon (Vrai-faux soutien de Valls à Macron: “Le Parisien” dément avoir été victime d’un canular) one party clearly is not helped by his statement: his own.
Here is the assertion that the news was a joke..
— Frédéric Vezard (@FVEZARD) March 14, 2017
Followed by this, which is clearly not false.
France: No Agreement between Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon as Communists Make Move Towards…Hamon.
No Left Unity Between Mélenchon and Hamon.
French left remains divided as no agreement has been reached between Mélenchon and Hamon for the French Presidential elections.
Or as Libération puts it,
While both sides have thrown the responsibility for a failure to reach any kind of accord on the other it is clear that Hamon, the Parti Socialist candidate, was never going to respond to Mélenchon’s demand that he rejects everybody in his own party that the Leader of La France insoumise does not approve or agree with.
After a narrow vote to back Mélenchon last November (53,6%) over the last weeks there has been an intense debate inside the Parti Communiste Français (PCF). They have been clearly not pleased that Mélenchon wishes them to abandon their own candidates for the Legislative elections (immediately after the Presidential contest) in favour of those chosen by the Leader of the La France Insoumise and his other demands, such as as finance for his Hologram studded electoral campaign.
Matters came to a head last week with this statement.
Un appel intitulé « PCF : sortons de l’immobilisme », qui a recueilli plus de 600 signatures en quarante-huit heures, plaide pour « une candidature commune pour la présidentielle . (le Monde)
This call for a common left candidate was clearly aimed at one target. As a supporter said, “a stratégie du tout ou rien de Jean-Luc Mélenchon » the strategy of all or nothing ” leads nowhere.
A rival appeal, Les communistes qui soutiennent Mélenchon se mobilisent called for support to the ‘left populist’
Today’s Libé notes,
Et du côté du Parti communiste, pourtant soutien critique de Mélenchon dans cette présidentielle, les choses pourraient aussi bouger cette semaine. La direction du PCF promet ainsi d’«autres initiatives» pour œuvrer en faveur de l’union de la gauche.Ce lundi, à l’issue de sa réunion hebdomadaire, l’exécutif PCF prévoit de diffuser une déclaration visant les conditions d’une possible «majorité politique de gauche».«Jean-Luc Mélenchon a raison lorsqu’il fait un certain nombre d’observations et de propositions à Benoît Hamon, mais son discours général et son positionnement actuel l’éloignent des décisions et des objectifs politiques des communistes»
On the Communist side things could move this week, despite their critical support for Mélenchon in the Presidential election. The leadership of the PCF promise “other initiatives” to work in favour of a union of the left. This Monday, at the end of their weekly meeting, the PCF Executive will launch a declaration that envisages the conditions for a potential “left political majority”. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is right to make some points about Benoît Hamon and the positions he takes, but his wider statements and his political positions are distant from the present positions and aims of the Communists
In other words, they have made the first steps towards an agreement with Hamon.
If supporters of the Green Party voted last week for left unity it now looks more than possible that they will also align with Hamon (EELV. 90 % des militants favorables à une alliance Jadot-Hamon-Mélenchon).
Important article arguing that the French radical left should back Hamon: Benoît Hamon : un vote trompe-la-mort.
The journal, Contretemps, is part this ‘gauche de la gauche’.
After an extremely hard attack on Mélenchon’s version of “left wing populism” advanced by Laclau and Mouffe and the politics and personality of the Leader of la France insoumise, is described as a ” républicain conservateur et d’homme d’ordre.”
Thus: a list of things that have sorely rankled with the French left, such as Mélenchon’s “refus de condamner les violences policières en France, sa position sur les réfugiés et les travailleurs détachés, sa mitterrandolâtrie, son chauvinisme” refusal to condemn police violence in France, his position on refugees and posted (that is, migrant) workers, his idealisation of François Mitterrand, and his chauvinism.
And… his, “tropisme anti-étatsunien en matière internationale qui l’amène à traiter avec une certaine bienveillance le régime de Hafez el-Assad, ainsi que le rôle joué en Syrie par Vladimir Poutine, etc.” His anti-American tendencies, which has led him to look with a degree of warmth the Assad regime, and the role of Vladimir Putin in Syria.
On Hamon he says, “Si Hamon ne trahit pas ses engagements sociaux-démocrates de gauche il créera une dynamique positive, interne et externe, qui l’amènera à prendre le pouvoir dans le parti et à regrouper l’ensemble de la gauche.”
“If he does not betray his left social democratic commitments, he will create a positive momentum, both internally and externally (to the Socialists, note), which will help him take the party leadership, and to regroup the whole of the left.”
Marlière has spoken at the LRC AGM. He is at home in the French (he was part the Front de gauche after a background in the Parti Socialiste left) and British left. He teaches at King’s College London and has been published in the Guardian/Observer.
Hearts Beating on French Left as New Hope Rises.
A few weeks ago commentators were seriously contemplating that the French Parti Socialiste would reduced to near electoral oblivion in the April May Presidential elections.
Now Opinion Polls give newly elected candidate Benoît Hamon between 16 to 17 %.
From a position as the leading candidate of the Left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has gone from 15% to below 10% and looks like slipping further. (Les Echos)
The Parti Socialiste contender is still 6 points behind the pro-business centre-left Emmanuel Macron.
But with the mainstream right candidate, François Fillon flaying around in all directions in response to one of the biggest fraud scandals to have hit French Presidential candidates, Hamon is a mere 3 points lower than the champion of Les Républicains.
These polls, and the open minded forward looking left-green programme offered by Hamon, have had their effect.
First there is this call today from the Green (Europe Écologie – Les Verts, EELV ) candidate: Yannick Jadot.
Jadot has called for a dialogue to create a “common project”
Présidentielle 2017 : Jadot veut construire un “projet commun” avec Hamon. Le candidat à la présidentielle a adressé une lettre à ses militants où il explique qu’un dialogue doit être entamé.
Second, the leader of the French Communist Party, Pierre Laurent, has declared that a “grand alliance” of the whole left, is “not impossible”.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Rally, La France Insoumise, has so far demanded that Hamon chooses between supporting those Socialist party representatives that Mélenchon disagrees with, and….Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Jean-Luc Mélenchon demande à Benoît Hamon de choisir « entre eux et nous »)
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And our time has come.” (France 24)
Benoît Hamon and the Renewal of the European Left.
With 58,88% of the ballot Benoît Hamon’s triumph in the French Parti Socialiste led ‘Belle Alliance’ primary was decisive (Libération). The election, whose second round attracted over 2 million voters, was not only a defeat for Manuel Valls – François Hollande’s Prime Minister up till this year.
In his victory speech Hamon announced, “Ce soir, la gauche relève la tête, elle se tourne vers le futur et elle veut gagner.” This evening the left has lifted his head high, looked towards the future, and wants to win.” (Nouvel Observateur)
This victory is first of all a disavowal of the Socialist President’s record in government. Valls lost for many reasons, not least his own record as an authoritarian (a prolonged state of emergency) an inflexible supporter of market economics (labour law ‘reform’). His harsh words against opposition from an “irreconcilable” left earned him rebukes from the moderate social democratic current, led by Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille. She ended up backing Hamon. High levels of support for Hamon in the poll came from her region, many other working class areas, and in urban centres, both Paris and its banlieue. It was also strong amongst young people.
The balance-sheet of Valls’ years in power since 2014 is thin: some liberal social reforms (gay marriage, le marriage pour tous), budgetary ‘discipline’, an inability or unwillingness to reform the European Union, and to come to the aid of those, like Greece, who had to submit to austerity and privatisation imposed by the Troika.
Above all in 2016 Prime Minister Valls’ reform of labour laws, la Loi Khomri, which, under pressure from the employers’ federation, weakens employees’ rights (Code du Travail) and unions’ national bargaining power, marked a break with the left and the labour movement. It was opposed by strikes and mass demonstrations. Accompanying them the Nuit Debout movement, organised public occupations and debates on an alternative to “la souveraineté du capital” in the terms of the philosopher and economist Frédéric Lordon, briefly looked as if might parallel the 15 M protests that led to the formation of the Spanish Podemos.
The Loi Khomri was adopted. Active opposition drained away last summer. But one might note that Nuit Debout was not a replication of Occupy Wall Street protests against liberal globalisation. It raised wider issues about what the theorist and others have called the “tyrannie du salariat” – the tyranny of wage labour. Lordon advanced a politics of “affects” (attachment) to new collective sovereignty, “décider en commun” through a participative state. His attempt to illustrate how ‘belonging’ to such a community, that could ‘de-consitutionalise’ the EU and return issues of “political economy” to the national collectivity has been met with criticism from the left. It is equally hard to see what economic sense it makes. The growth of internationalised production and distribution networks, indicates the need for EU and transnational regulation, and, in the longer perspective, European, cross-country, social ownership and labour movements. It is hard to see what is new or, in view of the rise of the sovereigntist right, about promoting national sovereignty. This stand resembles the arguments of the British Brexit left, whose claims, in the age of Trump and new protectionism, are unravelling by the day. (1)
Hamon views on the French state and the EU are much less abstract. They focus ion a new republic where Parliamentary power is asserted and on a Union in which an economic relaunch is undertaken. By contrast the questions the Nuit Debout radicals raised about the nature and the status of work, “repenser le travail”, have been at the centre of the contest between Hamon and Valls. (1)
Hamon’s proposal for a Revenu Universal (Basic Income) – to which is added the 32-hour week has caught the most attention. Jean-Marc Ferry calls it “une utopie réaliste” in the sense that it a source of hope that is not beyond legislative possibility. (Le Monde 25.1.17). But not only the financial realism of paying everybody 750 Euros a month (estimated to cost between 300 and 400 billion Euros), has been questioned. For some (including the union federation the CGT) it undermines the value of work. The satisfaction many feel they accomplish in their jobs and their achievements. Reducing the working week is, on the evidence of the 35-hour week, unlikely to share out employment. Hamon himself has compared the scheme to the French National Health Service, the principal part of La Sécurité Sociale. Everybody rich or poor is entitled to have his or her health protected, and to be treated when ill. A Basic income would protect people from poverty, without the bureaucracy (and local version of ‘sanctions’). It would enable people to explore new employment opportunities, to experiment on their own if they so wish, take risks, while offering a ‘safe home’ in case they don’t succeed.
This far from the liberal idea that Basic Income would replace all social allowances, in the shape of ‘negative income tax’. For social democrats it is, as above, a completion of social protection for some Marxists it would give works extra bargaining power, for supporters of “décroissance” (alternatives to growth), echoing the writings of André Gorz, it is a way of managing the “end of work” in its traditional form. (Anne Chemin. La Promesse d’une Révolution. Le Monde, Idées 28.1.17)
Hamon has offered, then, an innovative way of coming to terms with the spread of information technology and robotics, in which work in the traditional sense is changing and full employment (despite misleading UK figures) may well not be possible. Philippe van Parijs talks of how Basic Income would help people cope with the increasing ‘fluidity’ of employment – in other words the rise in part-time, short-term, jobs. (Le Monde 25.1.17). Valls’ alternative, a “decent income” (revenu décent), effectively some strengthening of the lower floor of social protection, struggled to win an audience. Basic Income may not perhaps answer those for whom work is a “form of citizenship”. Nor does it respond to the charge that it would create a form of ‘revenue-citizenships’ that would exclude migrants.
These proposals are only some of the best known of Hamon’s innovative and forward looking programme, which includes a raft of ideas from an “ecological transition” to the legalisation of cannabis. Hamon’s views on reforming the European Union parallel those of Another Europe is Possible. He promotes an open Laïcité (Secularism) and is strongly anti-racist. It hardly needs saying that he has promised to repeal the Loi Khomeri.
Socialism and Power.
Alain Bergounioux, the author with Gérard Greenberg of Les Socialistes français et le Pouvoir (2005), has complained that the French Socialists may emerge from the Primary incapable of becoming a “party of government” committed to the “exercise of power”. He warns of following either the path of Jean-Luc Mélenchon whose own rally, La France Insoumise, does not aspire to be in power, but to be a tribune of the people and the centrist Presidential candidate Philippe Macron, and his “parti-enterprise, that seeks power for, one might suggest, his own sake (Le Monde 27.1.17) What is at stake, Bergounioux point out, is the ability, of the Socialists, to form a viable electoral alternative, a role they have fulfilled since François Mitterrand’s victory in 1981. Faced with a tri-polarisation, between Right (François Fillon), far-right (Marine Le Pen), we have a left with its own tripolar divisions, Hamon and Mélenchon and former member of the Socialist Cabinet, Emmanuel Macron. That up to 50 Valls supporters in the National Assembly and Senate are reported to be switching to Macron is not a good sign.
Yet Hamon comes from currents inside the French Socialist Party (Nouveau Parti Socialiste onwards), which have hotly contested the record of their party in government. Dubbed ‘frondeurs’ (trouble-makers) for their opposition to budget cuts in the first years of the Valls government (in which Hamon served as Education Minister, before being sacked in 2014 for his criticisms) they come from a side of the party which has not accepted the party leadership’s adaption to markets and liberal economics. To cite a distinction well-known to the author of Les Socialistes français et le Pouvoir they are concerned not just with what Léon Blum called the “exercice du Pouvoir” but with the “conquête du pouvoir”, that is the revolution in society’s make up, socialism. The conquest of power implies more than forming a cabinet after an electoral triumph, it requires a social movement and a strategy to change the world. (2)
Does Hamon offer such a strategy? The immediate dilemma of the French Socialists is how to make their voice heard in a coming Presidential election in which they figure as also-runs. Yet an opening and gathering of the left is taking place. Inroads into the Green party, EELV, and their electorate, already divided about their candidate, Yannick Jadot, who struggles to appear in the opinion polls, can be expected.
Hamon’s victory has already had one result: at 15% of voting intentions he has at a stroke reduced Mélenchon to 10% (a loss of five points). Hamon was selected in a competition in which 2 million voters took part, the leader of La France Insoumise only responded to the Call of Destiny.
Hamon has proposed that these wings of the left unite, offering Mélenchon and Jadot places in a future cabinet.
Hamon faces a deeper underlying difficulty, another inheritance from Léon Blum. This is the belief that the French republic already contains the instruments for radical reform that a movement and a party can “capture” and use. In the process the distinction between occupying Ministerial posts and effecting genuine change is blurred. Hamon’s own background as a life-long professional politician, suggests that he will find this legacy harder to overcome. (3)
For the European left, not least the left in the Labour Party, Hamon’s candidacy is welcome news. An experienced politician, fiercely intelligent, whose team offers serious new thinking about socialism, ecology and social issues – often far more forward looking than any other mainstream European left, social democratic or labour, party – is now on the French political stage. He has a message of hope. It will help all us to listen to it.
- Pages 332 – 225. Frédéric Lordon. La Fabrique. 2015.
- Page 133. Alain Bergounioux, Gérard Grunberg of Les Socialistes français et le Pouvoir. Fayard. 2005.
- Page 125. Léon Blum. Un Portrait. Pierre Birnbaum. 2016.
Written by Andrew Coates
January 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm
Benoît Hamon: Tops Socialist ‘Primary’.
On Saturday a a joint member of the Labour Party and the French Parti Socialiste, who had been a supporter of President François Hollande, told me that she’d voted for the left candidate Benoît Hamon.
I was surprised, but, in retrospect, this support helped prepare my mind for the news that on the Sunday ‘Primary‘ Hamon beat the recent Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a dedicated ‘social liberal’ and admirer of Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way.
This is the result of the election to decide who will be their Presidential candidate this April in which 1,6 million people took part.
Principal candidates: Benoît Hamon (36,35 %) Manuel Valls (31,11 %). Arnaud Montebourg, 17,52 %.
The others scored much smaller: 6,85 % Vincent Peillon, 3,88 % pour François de Rugy, 1,97 % pour Sylvia Pinel (the only woman, a member of the Parti Radical de gauche) et 1,01 % pour Jean-Luc Bennahmias (the small Green party, the Front démocrate) (le Monde)
This ‘primary’ of the “Belle Alliance populaire”, was originally intended to be open to the whole French left. But as can be seen apart from the Socialists, only two tiny parties of the centre left took part.
Montebourg who is strongly on the left, has now called for support for Hamon in the Second Round, on the 29th of January.
49 years old Benoît Hamon served under Prime Minister Ayrault government as ministre délégué chargé de l’économie sociale et solidaire. His best known post was as Education Minister under Manuel Valls in 2014, where his efforts to change the organisation of the school year led to opositon from teachers.
Opposed to many of the policies of Prime Minister Valls and calling for a change in his economic strategies (le changement de politique économique) he, and Montebourg, were ejected from the Cabinet in 2014 (Quand Valls raconte comment il a viré Montebourg et Hamon du gouvernement). He then became one of the prominent “frondeurs” who opposed Valls, from his budget plans to the reform of labour laws, in the National Assembly.
Hamon’s key policy is a ‘revenu universal’, Basic Income, paid to all (see: Pro Basic Income candidate set to win Socialist Primary election).
Other proposals include institutional reforms (bring back Parliamentary control over laws, and limiting the power of the executive to override this), an ecological ‘tax’, a reduction in the use of nuclear power, a ‘police’ to fight against discrimination, and the legalisation of cannabis.
Above all Hamon has promised to annul the labour reforms introduced by Manuel Valls (abroger la loi travail, dernière grande réforme du mandat).
Hamon, in short has some ideas, clearly on the left, which inspire hope for a better future amongst Socialist supporters.
It is hard not to suspect that Manuel Valls lost ground not only because he promised “more of the same”, that is to continue the policies of his highly unpopular government, but because he has shown himself intensely hostile to the left of his own party. By announcing that there was no room for compromise he went against the grain of PS member accustomed a spirit of compromise, or “synthesis” between different currents in the party. In the run up to the Primary his own backers were prominent in throwing the blame for their disastrous showing in opinion polls on ‘frondeurs’ like Hamon and Montebourg.
Valls meanwhile has declared war on those with illusions in Hamon’s unrealistic programme (Libération Valls le «combattant» part en campagne contre «l’illusion et l’irréalisme»)
If Hamon wins he faces an uphill battle.
Polls give any Socialist candidate less than 10% of the vote in the Presidential contest.
To the left Jean-Luc Mélenchon is polling at between 14 and 15 %
The centre-left , Emmanuel Macron with 24% stands at the threshold of winning enough votes to be able to get to the second round.
Already some ‘social liberal’ socialists are moving towards open support for Macron.
For many on the European left Hamon’s potential candidature is, by contrast, a welcome sign of ideological renewal.
From the Left, Gérard Filoche, Standing in French Socialist Primary.
9 candidates are bidding for Socialist primary (during the coming January) in France
RFI sums this up,
Le Monde gives pride of place to the eight men and one woman who are official candidates for the Socialist Party-organised primary election, to be held next month with a view to choosing a challenger in the 2017 presidential battle.
The eight men are all usual suspects – they include former prime minister Manuel Valls, Socialist rebel parliamentarian Benoît Hamon, ex-minister, ex-contender, ex-businessman Arnaud Montebourg, the crime novelist and philosopher Vincent Peillon, also an ex-minister. But at least there’s something fresh about Sylvia Pinel, now 39-years-old, who was still trying to pay off her student loans when she was first elected to the French National Assembly. She was housing minister in the Valls government and will campaign on the Radical Left ticket.
That is, a “labour inspector”, people who play an important role in making sure French employment legislation is respected.
Le Monde notes,
“Entré en politique à l’Union des étudiants communistes et au Parti communiste (PCF), dont il est exclu en 1966, il figure parmi les fondateurs de la Ligue communiste (ancêtre de la LCR). Il rejoint, en 1994, le PS, « sans renoncement » à ses idées révolutionnaires. Campant aujourd’hui à l’extrême gauche du parti ; il siège au bureau national du PS.
He entered political life in the Communist Students’ union, from which he was expelled in 1966. He was one of the founder of the Ligue communiste, the forerunner of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. He joined the Parti Socialiste in 1994, “without abandoning” his revolutionary ideas. Today, positioned on the far left of the party, he is a member of the PS’s national executive.
En juin, il s’est déclaré candidat à la présidentielle sans abandonner son rêve d’une « candidature commune de toute la gauche », rassemblant socialistes, communistes et écologistes. Gérard Filoche, qui se veut « le candidat des petites retraites et des petits salaires », résume son programme en cinq nombres « 1800-32-60-20-5 » : smic à 1 800 euros brut par mois ; semaine de 32 heures ; retraite à 60 ans ; pas de rémunération supérieure à vingt fois le smic ; pas plus de 5 % de salariés en contrat à durée déterminée ou en intérim.
In June he announced that he would a Presidential candidate, without dropping his wish for a “common left candidate” which would bring together socialists, communists and greens. Gérard Filoche wants to be the “candidate for low income pensioners and low waged workers”, summed up his programme in 5 numbers, 1`800 – 32- 60 0 20 – 5. That is, the minimum wage at 1,800 Euros a month, working week of 32 hours, retirement at 60, no pay greater than 20 times the minimum wage, and not more than 5% of employees on fixed term of temporary contracts.
More on Wikipedia (French): Gérard Filoche.
— Philippe Marlière (@PhMarliere) December 3, 2016
Round Table in ‘‘l’Humanité” (today) with Gérard Filoche, PS, Alexis Corbière, spokesperson for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Olivier Dartigolles, Communist Party.
Trop, c’est trop: Enough is Enough!
The publication of SORTIR DE L’IMPASSE signed by 17 leading left figures, headed by Martine Aubry, and including centrist Green, Daniel Cohn-Bendit (MEP), Socialist MPs, Yann Galut, Chaynesse Khirouni, Christian Paul) and intellectuels et économistes Michel Vieworka, Daniel Cohen) is shaking the French political scene.
France 24 reports.
French President Francois Hollande and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls are under attack from the left flank of the governing Socialist Party, with leading figures accusing the pair of crippling the country.
With 15 months to go until the presidential election at which Hollande is expected to seek a second term in power, Martine Aubry – a powerful ex-minister and daughter of former European Commission chief Jacques Delors – led the charge.
In a full-page editorial in Le Monde newspaper on Wednesday which was co-signed by 17 other left-wing figures including firebrand former MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Aubry blew open the divisions between the left of the party and its reformist side, saying Hollande’s policies were driving France towards “long-term weakening”.
“Enough is enough,” Aubry wrote, asking: “What will remain of the ideas of Socialism when, day after day, its principles and its basis are being undermined?”
Aubry, the mayor of the northern city of Lille, reserved particular vitriol for Emmanuel Macron, the reform-minded economy minister and former investment banker who is a frequent target for the Socialist Party‘s old guard.
“Emmanuel Macron? I have just had enough of him,” she said in a later interview.
Aubry insisted however that she has no intention of running for president in 2017 – she claimed her concern was the very future of the party.
Valls hit back on Thursday, saying Aubry had not set out “a single policy proposition” in the article.
“I am the head of the government, I don’t write defamatory editorials,” Valls told Le Monde.
Choppy waters ahead
But many commentators noted that Aubry’s offensive was largely greeted by silence in official quarters. Valls waited 24 hours before responding while Hollande, who is visiting Latin America, has said nothing.
Newspaper editorials predicted that Hollande was about to enter choppy waters.
Some spoke of a “split” in the Socialist Party, others of a “dynamiting” of Hollande’s proposals.
Frederic Dabi, from the Ifop polling institute, said he had never seen “such a strong protest from a faction of a majority party” with just one year to go to the presidential election.
The article comes as Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri is seeking to simplify France’s complex labour laws, which some blame for fuelling stubbornly high levels of unemployment in the second-largest eurozone economy.
Most of the ministers who carry the torch for the left wing of the Socialist Party have left Valls’ government, most recently justice minister Christiane Taubira, who quit over her opposition to the government’s plans to strip terror convicts of their French nationality.
Hollande’s government has been accused by the rebellious leftist flank of veering to the right with the introduction of harsh security measures after the jihadist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead in November.
And a series of economic reforms adopted last year as France seeks to revive its stagnant economy were slammed as overwhelmingly pro-business. Valls had to force the measures through parliament over fears those within the party would sink the bill.
Despite his poor record on reducing unemployment, Hollande is gunning to be the Socialist candidate for the presidential election.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy and one-time prime minister Alain Juppe are among those vying for the right-wing nomination, but all the candidates fear a potentially high level of support for far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
This report is an underestimation of the crisis facing the Hollande Presidency, the Valls Cabinet, and French Parti Socialiste.
Aubry is a former Socialist Party First Secretary, from the modernising “deuxième gauche“, with a reputation for honesty and decency. This has made her criticisms all the more searing.
For Cohn-Bendit, a self-proclaimed “social liberal”, to criticise the present government policies from the left, is another landmark.
The Communist Daily l’Humanité calls the declaration an appeal to “break” with the present Valls government (Un appel de rupture avec le gouvernement).
The effects of the Aubry declaration are already being felt.
Le Monde reports a leading Valls supporter saying,
It’s the Bay of Pigs Cuban Missile Crisis. Who is going to press the Nuclear Button? It will all end badly.
The left – including many in the ruling Parti Socialiste – has been highly critical of the present government’s stand on two issues: the anti-liberal legal measures in the wake of the state of emergency and the liberalising efforts to weaken workers’ rights (the legal structures of the ‘droit du travail’) now being launched in the name of Minister Myriam El Khomri
But behind this is the fear that next year’s Presidential election will turn into a contest between the Right and the far-right, with all sections of the left marginalised.
Aubry now backs the idea of a Primary open to the whole left to select a Presidential candidate for the elections next year.
Underneath the political conflicts described above and no doubt helping her to make that choice there is a massive decline in Party membership: the Socialists for example have declined from 256 000 members in 2007 to 131 000 in 2015 (Le Monde).
President Hollande (and Jean-Luc Mélenchon) are opposed to this. Supporters of the President and the Valls Cabinet accuse the left of following the example of the Roman plebs and retiring to Mount Aventine in isolation. A primary of the whole left will only reinforce its inward looking tendencies.
Those who back Mélenchon’s decision to thrust himself forward without consulting the rest of the left may well be in that rocky encampment.
Much of the left, from the Communists, the Socialist ‘frondeurs’, independents, many Greens and a raft of others, by contrast see a Primary of the Left it as a way out of the present impasse: torn between a discredited government and the uncertain appeal of Man of Destiny Mélenchon.
In other words a primary of the whole left will draw people together.
With two leading opponents, Hollande and Mélenchon, already pitching their camp, it is hard to see the proposal becoming a reality.