France: After the European elections, the fight goes on!

Marie Le Pen (Wikimedia)

The first elections since Macron came to power, the European elections were anything but exciting. Electing representatives who have no power, in an institution, the European Union, which primarily serves the interests of banks and multinationals and organises privatisations and the destruction of public services, can be of little interest. However, it is still a way of expressing certain ideas and in particular of denouncing the reactionary policies being pursued by European governments amplified by the EU. This was only partially the case this time, even though participation increased to more than 51%.


As in 2014, the National Rally (RN) of Bardella/Le Pen was said to win, this time closely followed by Macron’s LaRem. The RN increased by 500,000 votes since the previous election but fell in percentage terms, not getting the massive support it was hoping for. As for Macron and his party, he has not taken a real knocking (although more than merited!) but he does not get widespread support because of the social counter-revolution he has been pursuing and deepening since his election.

The political crisis that characterises the period continues. The traditional parties (UMP and PS) were rejected and a higher score was given to EELV – Europe Ecology the Greens – (though a long way off their 2009 record) but there was no real force to express the anger of workers and young people who are experiencing the damage that capitalist policies are doing every day to our public services, jobs, living conditions and the environment.

RN-REM: two sides of the same coin!

Everything was done by Macron and the capitalist media at his beck and call to organise this fake duel with the RN. It is clear that the RN coming first place is partly due to the votes of those who wanted to sanction Macron and came out against him. But it’s a mistake. The RN is not a means of blocking Macron and his policies and even less a policy opposed to capitalism in Brussels. The RN has decided against increasing the minimum wage, against stopping the prosecutions of ‘yellow vest’ protesters. The RN spends its time blaming “migrants” or Muslims, which is all very useful for the ultra-rich and big bosses as they continue to gorge themselves on their billions and close down companies while the RN distracts attention. This party is a very useful distraction to avoid confronting the policies of the capitalists, who are solely responsible for the poverty of Europe’s 87 million inhabitants.

As for the March election, with more than 5 million votes, it showed an erosion of the number of votes since the presidential election, of course, but also a fall since the legislative elections by more than a million votes. This base is quite fragile. It is clearly the transfer of votes from the former right-wing and PS voters that maintains LaRem’s support: in all the towns and districts that usually vote for the right, it is now Macron who assures the representation of the rich.

The decline continues for the PS and the right

The traditional parties that have governed in the interests of the capitalists for the past 25 years continue to be punished. The differences with the previous European elections are irrefutable: with 1.4 million votes, the SP has lost more than one million voters since 2014 despite its attempt to make a “new formula” list led by Raphaël Glucksman, a non-member of the party who supported Sarkozy a few years ago. The UMP collapsed to 1.9 million votes, or more than 2 million votes lost. It is unlikely that the two “government” parties of the past will quickly emerge from their crisis, as their responsibility for policies of social destruction remain deeply embedded in people’s memories.

Green vote on the rise

EELV has always achieved its best results in the European elections. According to analysis by Harris Interactive, a significant portion of its vote came from young people aged 18 to 24 who voted more than 22% for them, even if the turnout among young people remained extremely low. This vote may have represented a third electoral path against Macron and Le Pen and a way to make their voices heard against global warming and the destruction of the planet. But this has to be put in perspective because it is also an age group in which the RN vote to reject politicians remains high at 14%.

In a confused and undefined way, the EELV vote reflected a certain desire to believe in the possibility of a different European Union and a better world, without wishing to deal with the question of the capitalist system that creates this unfair state of affairs in Europe and in the world. The problem is that EELV is not an alternative. The party is in favour of raising taxes for the majority of the population under the pretext of fighting global warming and the majority of the so-called ecologist leaders are largely in favour of capitalism.

Cormand, the national secretary of EELV, said on the evening of his election: “EELV has maintained a clear line” while adding : We will try to ensure that the centre of gravity of the European Parliament is an alliance of the social democrats and the Greens with the left of the European Left and the support of at least some of the Liberals”! So nothing new. The pseudo ecologists will continue to ally themselves with the PS and capitalist governments, but they would also like the anti-capitalists to join them, in order to privatise and continue with all the polluting industries?

The lack of a mass alternative to Macron

On the whole, no clear force has emerged against Macron for workers and young people. And that is what explains this abstention still being strong, even if it is less than usual for the European elections.

One would have thought that the Yellow Vests movement, led by new workers in the political struggle, could have shaken up the situation. It has been a strong element in recent months. But in the absence of a sufficiently clear position in relation to the government in terms of social and economic demands, the movement has not been able to strengthen the camp of workers and those who have been fighting against attacks from the government and the big bosses.

The “Anything but Macron!” approach has unfortunately been uppermost, leaving the yellow vests unarmed to fight and organise in the campaign and allowing the RN – the workers’ worst enemy – to harvest some of the votes expressing a justified anger. It is clear that those who are still active among the yellow vests will have to discuss this kind of issue, and understand that RN and LaRem are useful to each other. Le Pen helped Macron to be elected in 2017; she will be used again for that in 2022 if a real mass force of workers has not been built by then. The need for a political mass force and struggle remains to be met in order to achieve this goal.

Need for a political mass force and for struggle remains to be realised

One would have thought that the Yellow Vests movement, led by workers new to political struggle, could have shaken up the situation. It has been an important factor in recent months. To the left of the PS, Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Insoumise (FI), just stays at the head of the left-wing forces with its 6.3%, but it is not succeeding in being a mass alternative. Both Hamon and the PCF got under 4%. All together, the FI/PCF/Hamon etc. lists to the left of the SP managed to get over 12%. Under these circumstances, Manon Aubry’s score at the head of the FI list is not very satisfactory but it ‘saves the furniture’, as they say. It will have 6 MEPs who will be fighting the effects of capitalism, exposing the socially reactionary and ecologically damaging plans of European governments. But the problem remains of a coherent political policy to deal with everything that faces the majority of the population.

Some, including the PCF and relatives of the SP such as Glucksmann, talk about rebuilding or recomposing the “left”, without clearly talking about fundamentals and especially without taking the point of departure as the acceptance or not of capitalist policies. It is not possible to recompose a “left” of struggle if it is to start compromising again with the PS. Brossat, the main PCF candidate, is deputy mayor of Paris alongside Hidalgo, the PS mayor. Will they break with this PS – i.e. be ready to refuse to implement cuts in the social budgets, evictions, etc.?

Enough of being “disarmed” when facing Macron and LePen!

All these electoral results confirm the political crisis in the bourgeois parties. Although the Yellow Vest movement has shown that hundreds of thousands of people have had enough and have been ready to fight, it is not yet enough to obstruct Macron’s plans. The lack of a conscious intervention by the working class and youth to decisively stop him, the capitalists and their politics in recent months was reflected in the European elections. But all is not lost; we must step up the discussions and exchange of views.

The main question is, in the face of Macron’s policies, to be able to build, to organise and to prepare for the mass struggle of workers and young people that will be required. Gauche Révolutionnaire will continue the fight against capitalism, its environmental destruction and the dictatorship of profit, for the building of a mass party for socialism.

A full statement in French of the political situation and perspectives for France is contained in a document adopted at the March congress of Gauche Revolutionnaire. It can be accessed here:


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June 2019