France: Sarkozy wins the French Presidential elections

Construct an opposition of workers and youth against Sarkozy: Sarko your policies will not pass.

Like many had feared, Sarkozy was elected. Some people will conclude that all the people who voted for him agree with his policies. In fact, his election campaign consisted of a lot of demagogy (as the hour of the second round drew nearer Sarkozy’s references to the working class increased to give but one example) and a number of plain lies (like his slogan "working harder to earn more" which he repeated constantly while workers know that working longer hours means less new jobs are created) and provocations (in particular about law and order and immigration). It is not at all certain that Sarkozy has a stable majority behind him. When people realise that many of his promises are nothing less than lies, he will be an isolated figure. What is certain is that the arrival of Sarkozy to the presidency will create a series of tensions that he himself will aggravate with his aggressive stance. We have to remember that, whatever lies he told, Sarkozy’s policies are the policies of the rich and the bosses, and it is in the interests of the latter that he will rule. The measures he will implement will be anti-worker, anti-youth, anti-immigrant,

On what foundation is Sarkozy going to erect his ‘victory’?

Sarkozy, like many before him, has declared that he wants to liberate France from the ‘legacy of May 68’. The poor establishment still fear the phantom of another 1968. Even when May 1968 did not deliver the fruits which it could have (a revolution that could have liberated people from capitalism and that made the then president of the republic, Charles de Gaulle, flee the country), the establishment is still frightened of this immense demonstration of working class power when, through a general strike of three weeks, the working class demonstrated that without it the country comes to a standstill.

The declarations of Sarkozy about May 68 are in fact aimed at curtailing the right to strike. They are linked to his intentions to impose an obligatory minimum service in the event of strikes in public services and his intentions to oblige the trade unions to organise a ballot (controlled by the bosses) when a strike lasts more then 8 days. These are proposals similar to the anti-trade union laws brought in by Margaret Thatcher in Great-Britain. These are laws which have severely curtailed the right to strike and shackled the workers’ movement. The capitalist world is as it were a free world, but this freedom only exists for those bosses who want to sack people or impose longer working hours on their workforce. These kinds of measures show most clearly that workers and bosses do not have the same interests. Our rights, those of young people and working people, are won through collective struggle.

To confront him, Ségolène Royal, the candidate of the PS (ex-social democratic Parti Socialiste) did not present a real alternative. In essence she was in agreement with Sarkozy about the most important aspects of his pro-capitalist policy: reform of the pension system, immigration, and compliance with the rules of capitalism.

Building the resistance

The demonstrations that greeted the election results are justified: we need to show that a real opposition exists against Sarkozy. The explosions of anger are more or less to be expected and understood, because of the repressive and aggressive policies of Sarkozy himself. But how do we really succeed in stopping Sarkozy? This will have to happen through a struggle of workers and youth. Sarkozy has declared that he would attack the right to strike. We should not allow this attack pass. Already the trade union federation of train drivers is preparing to organise a national meeting to organise a first day of strike action. Such a day could be a warning strike, with the participation of the workers in those sectors that are ready for a fight.

We also have to remember Sarkozy’s intention to attack pension rights and to make it easier for the bosses to demand that workers put in overtime. A united resistance to this is a necessity. Last but not least Sarkozy has mentioned that he intends to propose a law giving autonomy to universities, in fact to organise competition between them, which will mean tuition fees will rise and that universities could even begin to select the kinds of students they want (and refuse others). We have to organise ourselves from today and participate in the construction of a real mass struggle, all united against Sarkozy.

Struggle against capitalism

Despite the victories of the mass movement such as the one against the CPE (the first employment contract) or the no vote on the "European constitution", Sarkozy was able to win because these victories of the working class were not followed up with further action which provided a genuine alternative to his ideas. The kind of ‘left’ ideas that Royal represents do not represent an alternative.

Typically the PS has given many promises only to go back to policies that serve capitalists, rich people and the bosses. What we need, to oppose them, to oppose Sarkozy, is a party of struggle, a new party that brings together young people and workers who want to struggle against policies like those of Sarkozy. This party could be an instrument, it would allow us to discuss the strategy to follow, prepare upcoming strikes and how to unite different struggles.

We do not have to think that we are in a totally new situation. Right wing governments of the past have tried to translate their electoral victories into ultra-liberal and racist policies. This was the case with the governments in 1986 and 1995. At the time, these governments were defeated by mass struggle and strikes of workers and youth. It is this we have to prepare ourselves for again.

We invite you to campaign with us in the coming weeks. Campaign to defend the right to strike, to defend a decent employment contract, to defend public education, and to fight against racism.

The real cause of our problems, what creates misery and unemployment, is the capitalist thirst for profit. Thus it is the system, capitalism that has to be changed.

Our organisation, Gauche révolutionnaire, fights against the real causes of our problems, the causes of misery, war and racism. We fight for a society rid of exploitation, where the economy will be democratically organised, for the satisfaction of the needs of all, by the workers themselves. This is real socialism which will allow us to defeat Sarkozy and the other false electoral choices.

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May 2007