Protests in Le Harve, Photo: Gauche Revolutionnaire
Protests in Le Harve, Photo: Gauche Revolutionnaire

Extracts from a statement issued by Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI France)

Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election with 58.54% of the votes, against Marine Le Pen’s 41.46%. Macron was able to win a second presidential term, despite the vicious policies he pursued against the interests of the majority of the population and the accumulated anger. Once again, it was far-right Le Pen’s presence in the second round which allowed Macron to get through.

There was a particularly high abstention rate for this election (28.01%), plus blank votes (4.57%), and spoilt ballots (1.62%). It was the lowest second round voter turnout since Georges Pompidou election in 1969. So it’s not a big victory for Macron.

Already, the legislative elections in mid-June look as if they will be quite fierce – like a ‘third round’. However, Macron wants to proceed quickly with his capitalist, anti-working class policies, especially on pension reform, pushing back the retirement age from 62 years to 64 or 65.

Anger runs high

Le Pen gained 2.6 million votes and Macron lost 1.9 million compared to the 2017 presidential election. In the absence of left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the second round, once again Le Pen partly benefited from a protest vote against Macron’s policies of the last five years. But Le Pen and her Rassemblement National (RN – National Rally party) will never call for strikes against Macron’s policies.

The majority of votes for Le Pen were cast in the most disadvantaged regions, which have suffered the attacks of neoliberal policies and the closure of workplaces. What better example than Guadeloupe (a poor Caribbean archipelago) which voted for the racist Le Pen, having voted for Mélenchon in the first round.

However, there was no tidal wave in favour of the RN. Many youth and left-wing voters refused to consider the Le Pen vote as the anti-Macron vote that she claimed to represent. Voting Le Pen meant an even more authoritarian, violent, racist and anti-worker policy. Some of these voters understandably chose Macron against Le Pen.

Defeating Macron

Macron has a small base to govern from. He will try to win over the traditional right and some of the greens.

All the opposition forces are looking towards the legislative elections in only six weeks’ time. Mélenchon was the first to indicate that electoral revenge ‘in the third round’ is possible by voting for his Popular Union (UP).

UP (Mélenchon’s election platform) is in discussion with the EELV (Ecologists), the PCF (Communist Party of France) and the NPA (New Anti-capitalist Party) to find agreement on a programme for government – a coalition that makes a clean break with the declining, establishment Parti Socialiste.

The PCF made a foolish, strategic error by competing with Mélenchon in the first round. The PCF’s modest 800,000 votes would have been enough to get Mélenchon into the second round, (who lost out to Le Pen by just 400,000 votes).

The PCF’s aim was to maintain its old alliances with the Parti Socialiste when the latter has no different policies from that of Macron (who was previously a PS minister) and only got 1.74% of votes in the first round.

The UP, faced with the challenge of needing to win a parliamentary majority, to effectively counter Macron and his policies, this must be in conjunction with a high level of workers’ struggle, and organising those who want to fight, into a mass workers’ party.

The Popular Union/France Insoumise grouping is receiving considerable attention from a section of young people and workers. The UP programme, which calls for the freezing and lowering of prices, retirement at 60, an increase in wages (with the minimum wage at €1,400) and benefits, along with expanded public services, is proving attractive.

The coming months can become very important. It will be decisive in confronting the capitalists if, at the same time, struggles are organised in the workplaces, in the schools and in the neighbourhoods against Macron and his policies.

The Popular Union, if it is enlarged around a more clearly anti-capitalist and combative programme, can play an essential role by being a tool to involve all those who want to resist in the struggle.

Structures should be developed – local committees, coordinating bodies in the departments and regions, national meetings, discussions of programme and activities, with regular meetings inviting young people and workers to get organised.

We also need to debate the need for a new democratic, mass party and struggle of youth and workers to fight Macron and capitalism. This is fundamental in order to win – a step towards a combative party of workers and young people fighting for socialism.

This is the aim of Gauche Révolutionnaire in the weeks to come.