French National Assembly elections – June 12-19:

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06/06/2022 by socialistfight

Vote Mélenchon/NUPES but prepare to fight! By Gerry Downing

Following the victory of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen by 58% to 42% in the April 24 Presidential election the legislative election for the National Assembly take place between June 12 and 19. All 577 seats of the National Assembly are contested so 289 seats needed for a majority.

Macron and his allies currently have 347 seats. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (FI), which got 22% in the Presidential election and almost pipped Le Pen for second place, has now formed a new alliance, the New People’s Ecologist and Social Union (NUPES). The Greens (Julien Bayou) and the Communist Party (Fabien Roussel) joined on May 1, and the Socialist party (Olivier Faure) on May 4. The NUPES alliance now has 58 seats but are hoping for a majority in the new Assembly with a revival of the left.

There are doubts. Opinion polls indicate Mélenchon’s votes went 23% to Le Pen, 33% to Macron with44% abstentions. Moreover, many commentators on the left have expressed the opinion the Mélenchon has had to trim his radicalism considerably to accommodate the more right wing PCF and SP, who have a record of promising the earth to the working class and oppressed to win elections and doing the exact opposite when in office after a brief struggle against the leading moguls of capitalism in France.

The Socialist Party in Government

François Mitterrand was SP President of France from 1981 to 1995, the longest time in office in the history of France. He introduced very progressive reforms in his first term but adopted the austerity “tournant de la rigueur” in March 1982, after only two years in office. Monetary and fiscal restraint was the essential policy orientation of François Mitterrand’s presidency from 1983 onwards according to W. Rand Smith, The Left’s Dirty Job: The Politics of Industrial Restructuring in France and Spain (1998). Nevertheless, compared to the OECD average, fiscal policy in France remained relatively expansionary during the course of the two François Mitterrand presidencies.

It was all downhill from there for the SP. Their leader, Lionel Jospin, was prime minister of France from 1997–2002 under the conservative administration of Jacques Chirac and meekly did he was instructed, initiating massive privatisations, and other attacks on his own voters. François Hollande, was President with his new ‘left-wing’ alliance of PS and Greens from May 15 2012 to May 14 2017. He topped previous austerity betrayals when the economic crisis struck and simply forced the youth and the working class to pay for it. He introduced savage anti-union laws, including the first Labour Law in June 2016 to hamstring any fightback.

This was “Macron law”; Hollande had promoted the career of this right winger, who launched his own political movement, “En Marche!” (On the move!), while still in Hollande’s government. “I’m in a left-wing government, unashamedly … but I also want to work with people from the right, who commit to the same values,” Macron ridiculously claimed. Since this “austerity turn” the PS has drifting further right until it is almost impossible to distinguish them ideologically from Macron’s LREM. And we have a constant bleed of PS leaders to the LREM.

The PCF had no answer, and have followed the PS programme like a dog; this resulted in their common electoral wipe out that we saw in April. The PCF, Greens and SP hope the NUPES alliance will save their political skins.

Neither the plague nor the cholera

However the great fear is that the milk-and-water programme will fail to mobilise Mélenchon’s voters 44% of whom abstained or new forces. They had contemptuously rejected both Macron and Le Pen with the mantra “neither the plague nor the cholera”. They do not want to repeat past betrayals but ominously the FI have agreed to the SP demands that the NUPES programme includes arming Ukraine to defeat Russia.

The militancy of the Yellow Vests’ uprising, their unequivocal rejection of the far right who sought to take advantage of that great upsurge from below, must now arise again in a new form. 

In France the President is supposed to be in charge of international affairs and the Prime Minister of domestic affairs. Of course, it is impossible to separate the two, one must be politically consistent with the other.

The development of the UP and Mélenchon into a kind of Podemos, or on the contrary into a kind of Allende, depends both on the rise of the class struggle in France and in the world as well as on international conflicts, in particular the imperialist war of aggression against Russia and its aftermath, the preparation of the war against China. ▲

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