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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 May 2017

France: Macron will not solve economic and social crises

photo Judy Beishon

photo Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Fightback and socialist policies vital

Emmanuel Macron is president of France after defeating Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National (FN) in the second-round election.

While many will breathe a sigh of relief that the FN was defeated - and pro-EU politicians see a threat to the European Union and the euro itself receding - Macron's election does not end the deep crisis and divisions in France.

He has a background in one of the biggest banking organisations in the world and, without even being a member of the PS ('Socialist' Party), was brought in by outgoing president Francois Hollande to pursue the harsh neoliberal policies which have created huge problems for France's workers and youth.

Macron can be faced with mass opposition on the streets as well as in the general election in June. As Leïla Messaoudi of Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) explains in the statement below, the seven million votes in the first round of the election for left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon reflect a huge potential for the ideas of socialism.

The presidential election in France has demonstrated an historic rejection of the establishment parties. In the first round, the ruling 'Socialist' Party of president Hollande was wiped out and also the corrupt right-wing candidate, Fillon, of Sarkozy's Les Republicains.

The strength of the anger in society was clearly expressed in the seven million votes for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his programme of a complete break with austerity and the worsening conditions of life and work.

But this vote was not enough to block the road to Le Pen and the FN. She was able to get into the second round and run against the clear nominee of the ruling classes, Macron.

Blank votes

In the end, Macron was elected with 65.8% of votes cast against 34.2% for Le Pen. It might be thought that the capitalists have now got their puppet in power and he will pursue and step up their policies of austerity and repression against workers, youth, the unemployed and foreigners. But this is by no means guaranteed.

Blank or spoilt ballot papers made up 12% of all the votes in the second round - a record. It has forced the media to publicise the figures of blank votes cast which are traditionally not announced. If we add abstentions - a huge 34% of voters - then 16 million out of the 47 million registered voters did not 'choose' either Le Pen or Macron.

This is a clear sign that Macron has a very weak base to govern from and that the months and years ahead will be very unstable.

Behind the percentages, the reality is even less glorious. Macron received 20.4 million votes and Le Pen 10.6 million.

In fact, despite the threat of Le Pen coming to power, Macron collected only 43.6% from the total number of registered voters. 43% of those who voted for Macron did so to block Le Pen while only 16% of them voted because of support for his programme.

Macron has a mission: to pursue and intensify the policies carried out by Sarkozy and Hollande for 15 years against public services, facilitate redundancies and make the labour market more 'flexible'.

He already announced that he wants to eliminate 120,000 public service jobs over five years. And he will use the arsenal of anti-democratic procedures, enshrined in the constitution, to pass laws which are vital for the capitalists.

He wants to govern by decree, that is to say, to side-step parliament and discussions on projected laws. The first one, for June or July, is already on its way - more anti-worker changes to the country's labour law. This will be followed by ones on unemployment pay, social security, etc.

Opposition to such policies is massive and was demonstrated during the election period. But this anger and opposition must find a social and political expression that champions the interests of workers, young people and the majority of the population.

There is a risk that the FN will seek to capitalise more on the opposition to the bosses and divert it into the wrong channels using racism and all kinds of discrimination.

The leadership of the trade union federations cannot remain silent. They must organise and show our collective strength without waiting until the end of June.

For Le Pen and the FN, the election campaign was not that simple. They hoped to surf the widespread discontent and expected the biggest vote in the first round, but the campaign of Mélenchon ate deeply into their support.

Le Pen succeeded in getting 10.6 million votes in the second round, or 3.5 million more votes between the two rounds, probably among the reactionary right who had voted Fillon and for the chauvinist Dupont-Aignan.

Front National

Now she wants to transform her party completely. But this has already created opposition within the FN itself, especially among the supporters of MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who look unfavourably on a rapprochement with certain sectors of the traditional right.

The challenge for the FN is to capitalise on the anger that has built up but also to allow its leaders to build their own careers. The tensions will multiply, especially when the real opposition to Macron - from workers and young people - will be based on demands which contradict those of the Front National (by whatever name it becomes known).

The next national elections on 11 and 18 June are to choose members of the national assembly.

More than ever, it is necessary for workers, young people and those who live in the poorer areas of France to have an independent political expression to confront the parties which are running capitalism: Macron's movement 'En Marche!', the disintegrating 'Socialist' Party and the EELV (Ecologists who are already seeking an alliance with Macron's party), the Republicans and the FN.

In relation to Mélenchon's campaign, candidates are needed who stand for a break with austerity policies, and we can no longer accept agreements with parties that carry them out, such as the PS or some of EELV.

Anti-austerity candidates

Candidates are needed who fight against redundancies, such as those at Whirlpool or Tati, who fight against the dismantling of public services, against the destruction of the environment, for increases in wages and pensions, for reductions of working hours and more jobs. Candidates who differentiate themselves from the corrupt and careerists by accepting only the average salary of a skilled worker.

We are in favour of having just one candidate per constituency around this programme. It should be possible to campaign for the same candidate, whether from Melenchon's 'France Insoumise' (FI) or from the French 'Communist' Party while maintaining their own freedom of expression if so desired.

An agreement should be reached, if not for a joint campaign, at least for the distribution of constituencies.

Faced with the policies being pursued on behalf of the bosses, the real left has a great responsibility and cannot relinquish the territory to the FN. We must follow up on the momentum triggered by the campaign around Mélenchon in the first round of the presidential election.

The Mélenchon vote brought hope to ordinary people and a progressive programme that takes on those who are really responsible for the crisis: the super-rich, the banks, the major shareholders.

We have to create a new mass political force capable of organising anger and resistance around an economic and social programme that identifies those who are really to blame: the capitalists and their representatives. Hundreds of thousands of Mélenchon voters want to carry on fighting on his programme.

What was lacking in the last two weeks of the campaign was having a more structured France Insoumise organisation, more capable of taking root as a combative movement against the pro-capitalist candidates.

We are for a mass political force of struggle, a democratic party bringing together workers, young people, and all those who have had enough of capitalism.

We must fight to put an end to the capitalist dictatorship by nationalising the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the population.

A new force can be built with mass mobilisations and in discussing an anti-austerity programme, but also by defending democratic socialism as an alternative to capitalism and its dictatorship of profit.

With Mélenchon's vote and the 'France Insoumise' campaign, a big step has been taken in this direction. We can say that, from now on, the capitalists have a real opposition to face and that it will grow.

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In The Socialist 10 May 2017:

What we think

Local election results must mean Corbyn campaign is stepped up

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories wrecking our NHS: kick them out!

Corbyn pledges freeze on 'STP' health cuts

Corbyn pledges council powers to take over academies

Tories forced to publish useless plans on toxic air

1,000 super-rich own £658 billion!

Corbyn promises to scrap hospital parking fees

Corbyn would limit TV junk food ads

What we saw

International socialist news and analysis

France: Macron won't solve economic & social crises

Local elections 2017

TUSC's anti-cuts message finds positive response

Liverpool city region mayor election - almost 8,000 votes for TUSC

Tories win West Midlands mayor - the complete failure of the Labour right

Labour hangs on in Wales despite cuts councillors

Doncaster TUSC's campaigning against cuts goes on

Workplace news and analysis

Tube strike at London Bridge over unfair dismissal

After the Unite elections - now turn outwards

Workers fight back against race to the bottom!

Royal Mail walkout over suspension of union reps

Good debate and response at radiographers' union conference

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

US: women ice hockey players' strike threat wins living wage

Featured letter: disabled workers want our voices heard, not charity

Foreign aid corruption: capitalism to blame

Why I joined: raising the ideas of socialism

Theatre review: Fracked! Political satire skewers frackers

The Socialist inbox

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaign launch: "rip-off bosses and greedy bankers - enough is enough!"

Overflowing Corbyn rally in Leicester

Hundreds rally for Corbyn in Leamington

One Housing tenants force housing association back

Jobstown Not Guilty trial round-up

Yorkshire meeting in solidarity with the #JobstownNotGuilty campaign

Socialists tell free marketeers

Packed Socialist Party meeting discusses the general election

Sutton Coldfield socialist campaign stall


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