French Elections Updated

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13/04/2017 by socialistfight

By Viriato Lusitania

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A combination picture shows candidates for the French 2017 presidential election, 1st row L-R : Nathalie Arthaud, France’s extreme-left Lutte Ouvriere political party (LO) leader, Francois Asselineau, UPR candidate, Jacques Cheminade, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Debout La France group candidate, Francois Fillon, the Republicans political party candidate, 2nd row L-R : Benoit Hamon, French Socialist party candidate, Jean Lassalle, Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader, Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche ! (or Onwards !), Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of the French far-left Parti de Gauche, Philippe Poutou, Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) presidential candidate, after the official announcement in Paris, France, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Staff

PARIS (Reuters) – Eleven people have received the 500 endorsements from elected officials needed in order to run in the first round of the French presidential elections on April 23. The top two will qualify for a run-off on May 7.

The Constitutional Council announced the final list on Saturday (March 18).

NATALIE ARTHAUD, 46, WORKERS’ STRUGGLE

Economics professor who runs for the far-left Trotskyist party. Wants the voice of the workers to be heard. Won 0.5 percent of vote in 2012.

FRANCOIS ASSELINEAU, 59, POPULAR REPUBLICAN UNION

A member of France’s elite administrative corp of finance inspectors, sovereigntist, who wants withdrawal from EU, Euro, NATO.

JACQUES CHEMINADE, 75, SOLIDARITY & PROGRESS PARTY

Former civil servant in economy ministry. Running in third presidential race having won 0.2 percent in 2012. Wants to break free from shackles of international finance, leave EU and drop the euro.

NICOLAS DUPONT-AIGNAN, 55, DEBOUT LA FRANCE

Gaullist, sovereigntist lawmaker, who won 1.8 percent of vote in 2012. Formerly of the centre-right party, wants to renegotiate European treaties, reduce immigration and reconsider the euro.

FRANCOIS FILLON, 63, THE REPUBLICAINS

Seeking return to power for mainstream centre-right after five-year hiatus. Won the ticket on proposals to slash public spending and cut state sector jobs. Social conservative from region with strong Catholic roots.

BENOIT HAMON, 49, SOCIALIST PARTY

Positioned to the left end of his Socialist Party. ‘Big idea’ is costly social welfare reform under which the state provides a no-strings monthly income to all adults.

JEAN LASSALLE, 61, INDEPENDENT

Centrist lawmaker. Known for a 39-day hunger strike to oppose a factory closure in his constituency. Proposes moratorium on national debt, renegotiation of European treaties, disengagement of overseas military operations.

MARINE LE PEN,48, NATIONAL FRONT

Seeking first presidential win for far-right party her father Jean-Marie Le Pen founded in 1972 but which she has rebranded as anti-establishment party that caters to working class voters of left-wing leaning as well as anti-immigrant, anti-EU and “French-first” voters

EMMANUEL MACRON, 39, EN MARCHE, AN UNAFFILIATED MOVEMENT

Former investment banker, economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande. Created non-partisan political movement with stated goal of transcending the limits of traditional left- and right-wing parties, with policies that would combine state protection and business freedom to innovate.

JEAN-LUC MELENCHON, 65, LEFT PARTY

Total overhaul of political system, high tax, big spending on environmental transition, EU-hostile. “Indomitable France” grouping is backed by the country’s Communist party.

PHILIPPE POUTOU, 49, NEW ANTICAPITALIST PARTY

Car factory worker. Like Arthaud wants to defend the rights of workers. Won 1 percent of vote in 2012.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Michel Rose)

 

Following his piece on 20 February here:

https://socialistfight.com/2017/02/20/the-french-elections/

france2017-1

 Viriato Lusitania

updates his assessment of the political situation in France. Stories have started to emerge of a ‘Mélenchon surge’.  A run-off between Mélenchon and Marine Le Penn would make for a very interesting week indeed!

 

Before saying a word about, we should take a look of the situation in France and her international policy.

In one word the Hollande government has aligned and even stride forward the imperialist’s-Zionists plans against Syria. They have failed miserably as it is known.

Internally Hollande’s period is one of ever-increasing attacks on worker’s with at least two main laws aiming to destroy every left right and further liberalizing the laws and the working conditions: the so-called Macron law and the El Kohmri law both opposed by the most combative layers of the working class.

Both laws passed without discussion in parliament and with the votes of the “left” wing of within the government but no vote against.

Due to the shortage of space we shall no go further.

The election has been orchestrated to get some interest from the vast layers of workers who have not voted in recent elections. Then the main parties, the right called today Les Republicains, and the Socialist Party, which has only that name not the substance, but still maintains a base in the middle layers workers (with every political representative from that party coming from the upper layers of the petit and middle bourgeoisie) as the “primaries” has shown.

The right wing “primary” election or caucuses was won by the one who has presented the most radical liberal-right program, François Fillon. He is for the suppression of 500,000 public workers, abolishing the Sécurité Social (social security) which is something every worker stand for, and sundry measures to reduce taxes on the bosses and increase the burden on the workers. He was elected by the more rightist layer of the bourgeois public opinion but his program has make such an uproar coming from workers and even some middle-class layer that he has been forced to “put some water in his wine”. With such a programme, he cannot win.

Fillon is for an alliance with Russia and Germany – and that means against the US and GB. The bourgeois, as in every country, are quite divided between the ones who want to go with the USA and those who prefer Germany. Now, he is involved in a scandal about money as always. He is a candidate who has put his “honesty” forward, like Trump; it makes disorder as the French say.

There other candidate coming from the right is Marine Le Pen who, at 35%, is the leading in the polls. Whilst Fillon is severely bothered by his “loss of credibility” the other rightist candidate Macron, is sponsored by the mainstream press and finance capital. Although he says that he is not left nor right and the opinion polls give him 20% but with no public program and no party behind him he will make an easy target for Marine Le Pen.

There is a real possibility that Le Pen will win the election if Fillon abandons the fight and Macron comes second. Her program is to abandon the EU, go back to the Franc and (even though she denies it) brutally fulfill the Fillon program. That is making the French economy “competitive” by putting the maximum downward pressure on the wages and labour conditions of the French workers assaulting conditions of immigrant workers even more brutally.

On the left we have Hamon who has defeated Vals but was abhorred by the working class. This shows a left turn in the opinion and shows also the progressive radicalisation of the whole society. There are also the so-called “Trotskyist” Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvriere” who claims to be the only “communist” candidate. She is only on 0.5% and Philippe Poutou, of the Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) that has the same. They have lost they had gained some years ago, when they got a combined total of 10.5%. They are going to the bottom of their “policy”, to the “néant” (nothing) because of their sectarianism. They don’t deserve even this few words.

Hollande and Sarkozy terrified at the Mélenchon surge.

Then we have Mélenchon, old horse of the PS that, feeling the wind of change, has for some years abandoned the PS and formed a so-called “Parti de Gauche” (Left Party) who is, in substance, himself. He has a sort of left-social democrat-ecologists program (he is willing to accept whatever idea or personality that suits him). The PC,  the Communist Party of France support him after a brutal internal struggle the decision was taken by a little bit more than half its militants (some 60,000).  It is not a critical support but just a support, an alignment. But many of their militants will not work for Mélenchon.

He is perhaps a sort of Sanders or Corbyn but with French characteristics i.e. some franc-maçon ideas and inspirations, some “Trotskyism” (he was in his youth a “Lambertist Trotskyist”) fighting for a “new” 6th Republic, against the EU and all this bathedin a high pro-worker sauce that makes him the candidate of the more conscious layers of the working class. He is against the EU, for an alternative international policy to move closes to the “natural” allies of France (i.e. Russia) and against Germany. Internally he talks a lot about “Keynesian’s” economics, out of the Euro, devaluation, etc.

It can be a step if and only if, there is a communist party in the making. Or if there was a little communist party in the country they could give him critical support. Nevertheless, he is the only (very small) step forward but because on his working class base a political organization could work to go further. I have shown this possibility to some people, to no avail.  Mélenchon is seen, and not without reason, as a demagogue or a new Miterrand, the “Vade Retro Satanas!” of every little communist faction (and there are some) in France. Then, as always there is a passionate rejection of him in almost half the PCF and in the whole extreme left. He will win between 10 and 15 % of the vote.

My view:

Macron will collapse in the right line, Marine Le Pen will make a good score and have some chances to arrive first in the second tour but if it is Fillon or another rightist (Fillon has said that if the judges put him in accusation he will demise) that follows second in the first polls, she will lose again.

Mélenchon can arrive third with a chance and this is a good political card for the workers, not because his can provide an alternative, only because this option, seen by the masses as an “extreme left option”, will advance their consciousness and struggles.

Or it would be Hamon, today with “good” polls opinion (23%) but going down quickly. This so 23% is more mainstream media support than real support. He cannot separate himself from the “bilan” the accomplishments of the PS government. He is trying to sink Mélenchon with twisted offers of “union of the left” but Mélenchon old politician, is working well and Hamon will be shown nude in open space by the kids.

Perspective?

 The working class is psychologically preparing itself for the coming battles, and this now. The Fillon program has awakened many people that finds that sacking 500,000 public workers (“fonctionnaires”) will create such a problem, put so many others out of work, reduce every public facility, and will make both health care and education private and expensive that the bourgeoisie is perhaps backing the campaign against Fillon. The French people will fight back.

The problem is that the whole bourgeoisie needs that program…We are heading for big class fights and/or a bonapartist regime in France.

 

This is another version of the same report:

The French elections

In less than 10 days, the presidential elections in France will take place. There are three overtly right-wing candidates (Fillon, Macron and Marine le Pen) who would implement a terrible program against the workers to ensure the French bourgeoisie gains and some competitiveness against their outside rivals.

A right-wing Democrat socialist candidate, Hamon, Hollande’s past five-year successor, a left-wing Democrat socialist Mélenchon who has the enthusiastic support of the most conscientious workers and says he will implement a ‘Keynesian’ program.

There are also five other candidates, including two candidates who claim to be ‘trotyskists’ (Arthaud for Workers’ Struggle= Lutte Ouvrière) and the ‘ Anti-capitalist ‘ Poutou who come from the’ Trotskyist ‘ntradition of the’ Fourth International ‘ but who have abandoned it many years ago. Between the two they will not get more than 3% of the vote … if they get so ‘much’.

The central problem for workers is how to stop the “reforms” that the Fillon plan entails. Or, how to get another kind of program done. The small parties as LO and NPA can in no way achieve this objective because of the little support they have been able to obtain. Mainly by their extreme sectarianism (LO) who did not want to join with the NPA, and of the excessively little image that the NPA has among the workers. (A group where there are countless trends and where everyone does what he or she wants).

Only Melenchon remains. This old politician, a senator, a former minister, but always on the ‘left wing’ of the Socialist Party (for that matter, anything less than a real socialist party for the workers) decided a few years ago to move away from the PS to form a quite small political grouping (Le Parti de Gauche, left party) and with the strength of his own arms and his political ability, which has plenty and is probably the best popular  french tribune of a long time, has managed to raise itself as the representative of the most conscious layers of the French working classes.

It must be said that there is in France, and particularly among workers, unemployed, retired and small businessmen, a deep discomfort over their manifest impoverishment and a deaf angriness that rages under seemingly calm waters.

This discontent had been channeled (and still is to some extent) by the National Front of Marine le Pen, using a populist and anti-immigrant demagoguery, but mainly because no other acceptable and sufficient political option has appeared.

The situation is no longer the same because of Mélenchon who has come to occupy the place from the ‘left’ of social democracy. There has been an electoral dynamic essentially supported by broad sectors of workers and youth, which has propelled it in a few weeks from the candidacy of an outsider to the third place and for some others to the second which would give the possibility to win the presidential elections with important consequences both inside and outside France.

If Mélenchon wins, the European Union falters as he has said it will renegotiate all agreements with Germany. These agreements form the basis of the European Union. Mélenchon threatened to leave the UE, the euro and return to the Franco, exploding the German plans and restoring a situation that is very similar to that of 1914 and 1939. In any case, all the candidates are positioned on behalf of Germany. Some in a subordinate collaboration and others in a more oppositional position. The old problems of Europe are reborning before our eyes.

This real threat against the interests of the bourgeoisie who had thought to have ‘cooked’ this election has provoked, a little over a week from the election, very violent attacks against the ‘Communist candidate’, the  ‘Trotskyist’ (Mélenchon was in his youth  a lambertist  trotskist for a short time) against its ” unreazonable, utopian, impossible to finance program” etc. In short, all the panoply of attacks that the right and center press can imagine.

It also includes the promotion of candidates who could take him away some votes as candidates who claim to be “Trotskyite” or anti-capitalist.

For the old Chileans we are, these attacks and this situation remind us in a certain way what happened in Chile in the years 1969 when another old reformist senator of the rightist wing of the PS was elected candidate for the presidency provoking the same enthusiasm and arousing the same expectations.

Some political “sages” of that time predicted that such an experience would not be accepted by US imperialism and that the troops it maintained in Chile (and still maintains) the so-called “Chilean army” would end it with a slaughter.

That, therefore, and this is where they were half-way wrong, one did not have to “deceive people by promoting illusions about that government” and stood by showing that with their  fingesr, saying that was not this kind of `reformism` that it was needed.

There are some here in France who proceed in the same way and get the same results. French workers shrug their shoulders, don’t stop their way and vote for Mélenchon who represents the current state of political consciousness of the French working class.

Instead of joining the movement to patiently explain why Mélenchon is insufficient and his program absurd since it does not attack capitalism, these ultra-leftist people stand on the sidewalk and criticize the actual movement of the class who need not any such ” critics “.

What these absurd people do not see is that the mere fact that Melenchon is in front of the right-wing PS and one of the right-wing candidates is an important advance for the struggles that will come against capitalist plans. Now, if he came to the second round and is elected, the world political earthquake that this would be (the bourgeois press, let’s not forget, presents him as a ‘communist candidate’) would have repercussions that I can not calculate but that would be not scarce.

I leave this conversation here, the facts vary with the speed of lightning and what is written today, may be out of fashion tomorrow, but if the current trend is confirmed, the French working class will surprise the world as it had always been their habitude.

 

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