Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 April 2004

French elections:

Raffarin's 'Reforms' Decisively Rejected

Prospect of new wave of workers' struggles

THE RIGHT-WING Chirac-Raffarin government in France is in political meltdown following disastrous regional election results. Its share of the vote slump to 36%.

Dave Carr

The main beneficiary was the opposition Socialist Party (PS) which won 21 out of 22 metropolitan regions. Along with the Greens and Communist Party the PS secured 50% of the vote (an increase of 10% on its share in the first round of elections).

Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin suffered the further humiliation of seeing his UMP party trounced in his home region of Poitou-Charante.

The far-right National Front (FN) got 13% of the vote - a fall of 3% in the second round. But because of an overall higher turnout, the number voting for the FN remained the same.

The election result wasn't, however, a ringing endorsement for the pro-capitalist Socialist Party. It reflected the electorate's anger over the government's neo-liberal 'reforms' ie cutting health and welfare, privatisation, deregulating the labour market, and attacking education and pensions.

It was these policies that provoked, last year, a massive strike movement of trade unionists involving teachers, healthworkers, railway workers, gas and electricity workers, civil servants, as well as some workers in the private sector.

But despite the government's crushing defeat, UMP leader Alain JuppŽ, immediately after the results became known, announced that the reforms would continue. This sets the scene for a series of renewed clashes between the government and the trade unions.

Social-democracy revival?

There is some media talk about a revival of Europe's social-democrat parties. Commentators point to PSOE's recent victory in Spain and now the PS in France.

This argument is flawed. It does not explain the defeat of the ruling PASOK party by the conservative New Democracy in the recent Greek general election. Nor does it explain why the ruling SPD party of Chancellor Schroeder suffered a calamitous reversal in Germany's recent regional elections.

Moreover, it fails to explain why PSOE was previously defeated by the right-wing Popular Party of JosŽ Marie Aznar in 1996 after 14 years in government and, why the French Socialist Party under prime minister Lionel Jospin was defeated by the UMP in the June 2002 general election.

Jospin also failed to qualify for the second round of the presidential election which was contested between Jaques Chirac and the Jean-Marie Le Pen of the FN.

The PS and PSOE, as the main opposition parties, simply benefited from the ruling parties' problems. In Spain, Aznar suffered a backlash over his collaboration with Bush and Blair in the Iraq war. In France, Raffarin was beaten because his government pursued anti-working class policies at a time of economic recession and high unemployment.

Even the pro-PS newspaper Liberation said the PS victory was more the result of a protest vote against the government.

Europe's social democratic parties, including Blair's New Labour, have long ago abandoned any pretence of fighting for socialism and have even ditched pursuing social reforms aimed at benefiting the working class. Instead, their political agendas have been set by the demands of big business, whose drive for greater profits has meant a slashing of the welfare state combined with privatisation of the public sector and labour deregulation.

This rightward shift in the traditional workers' parties over the last decade or two has created a political vacuum on the left.

In France, this had benefited the so-called Trotskyist parties who in the 2002 French presidential election received nearly three million votes. However, they have since proved unable to capitalise on this potential through initiating a viable, alternative new workers' party.

They did not reproduce their previous successes in the recent election, failing to progress beyond the first round.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 3 April 2004:

Stop The Council Tax Rip-Off

Fighting Back Against New Labour's Job Cuts

"We're Not Settling Until We Get A National Deal"

NHS: Superbugs, superdrugs and dirty hospitals

Don't Let The Market Rule Education

Workplace news and events

The New Satanic Mills

Council Workers Enjoy The Fruits Of Victory!

Defending trade union rights in Newham

International socialist news and analysis

Raffarin's 'Reforms' Decisively Rejected

Scottish Socialist Party Conference

CWI Appeal: Nigeria Members Arrested


Home   |   The Socialist 3 April 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleEast London Socialist Party: Lessons of France '68 for the climate strikes today

triangleFrance Telecom: Privatisation in the dock

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Gilets Jaunes movement in France

triangleTV: Les Misérables - Hugo's novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope

triangleFrance: striking workers confront Macron


triangleVote for socialist fighter Jared Wood in RMT elections

triangleFar right makes gains in Germany

triangleGreece elections: Syriza ousted amid voter disillusionment

triangleSocialists in Unison hold positions in elections


triangleRMT: Jared Wood - Fighting cuts, defending jobs, pay and conditions

triangleGeneral secretary election: Marion Lloyd - standing for action on members' pay, jobs, pensions and more

triangleCorbyn must stand firm against establishment and Labour right





Mass united action against the war on Syrian Kurds



Uprising in Ecuador forces government climbdown



Catalonia: Mass protests against punitive political jailings



Trump gives green light to Turkey to attack Kurds



Trump, impeachment and the need for an independent workers' party



Chinese revolution of 1944-49: 'The second greatest event in human history'



Egypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator



Catalonia independence movement two years on


Saudi Arabia

Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia: Tensions ratcheted up


South Africa

Violence against women in South Africa



West Papuans demand self-determination in London


South Africa

South Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies


Far right

Far right makes gains in Germany


Hong Kong

Hong Kong protests: No let-up in trial of strength



Italy: Governing coalition fractures as Salvini looks to capitalise on crisis

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019