Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election against Marine Le Pen. The capitalists’ plans worked, just, forcing a replay of the 2017 second round. Incredibly, Macron was able to win again despite the vicious policies he pursued against the interests of the majority of the population and the accumulated anger. Once again, it was Le Pen’s presence in the second round which allowed Macron to get through.
Macron won 58.54% of the votes cast against 41.46% for Le Pen. The percentage of votes won by Macron, in proportion to the total number of people registered to vote, was only 38.52%. This figure takes into account the particularly high abstention rate for this election (28.01%) and the blank votes (4.57%) and spoilt ballots (1.62%). This is the lowest score since that of Georges Pompidou in 1969, a year after the great general strike of May-June 1968.
So it’s not a big victory. And already, the legislative elections in mid-June look as if they will be quite fierce – like a third round. However, Macron is going to proceed with his policies and seems to want to proceed quickly, especially on the pension reform, pushing the retirement age from 62 to 64 or 65 years.
Anger runs high
Le Pen gained 2.6 million votes and Macron lost 1.9 million compared to 2017. In the absence of left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the second round, once again, a protest vote against Macron was expressed in vain by a vote for Marine Le Pen. For example, she and her Rassemblement National (RN) will never call for strikes against Macron’s policies. It was an expression of the immense anger accumulated against Macron’s policies over the last five years. Macron lost more than 300,000 votes in Île-de-France, 100,000 in the Hauts-de-France and 120,000 in the Grand Est.
Moreover, the majority of votes for Le Pen were cast in the most disadvantaged regions, which have suffered the attacks of neo-liberal policies and the closure of factories. What better example than Guadeloupe, which voted for Le Pen [having voted for Mélenchon in the first round] even though she has not managed to set foot there for a long time.
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 chose Macron against Le Pen, with the idea of choosing which enemy to fight. Moreover, many refused to choose. Apart from the ‘blank votes’, the void votes and abstentions are particularly important.
Defeating Macron and his policies
Macron therefore has a small base to govern from. He will try to win over the traditional right and part of the ecologists. 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 the Popular Union (PU). The latter (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 Parti Socialiste (PS) and its policies in favour of the capitalists.
The PCF made a foolish strategic error by presenting its own candidate, Fabien Roussel, in the presidential elections and thinking it could do better by knocking Mélenchon. Roussel got a very modest result, but his 800,000 votes would certainly have been enough to get Mélenchon into the second round, as he lost out to Le Pen by only 400,000 votes. The PCF’s aim was to maintain its old alliances with the current Parti Socialiste when the latter has no different policy from that of Macron (who was a PS minister under Hollande-Valls). Macron-compatible policies were the most important to fight against, and unity in the first round of all the left forces that wanted to fight Macron and capitalism would have changed the outcome.
Now the challenge is very tough for the Popular Union, even if it is enlarged, to be able to win a majority of the 577 parliamentary seats. Effectively countering Macron and his policies will only be possible in conjunction with a high level of workers’ struggle and organising those who want to fight into a mass workers’ party.
Faced with Macron and Le Pen-Zemmour, we need to turn the 7.7 million votes for Mélenchon into a fighting force!
The Popular Union/France Insoumise is receiving considerable attention from a section of young people and workers. The UP programme has made it possible to put forward vital demands such as the freezing and lowering of prices, retirement at 60 years maximum, an increase in wages (with the minimum wage at €1,400), increased benefits, real public services in education, health, transport, energy and medical provision. We must not abandon all those who took part in the elections, particularly since Macron is not going to stop his attacks and the bosses’ media will once again attack Mélenchon and the Insoumis. Le Pen and Zemmour will also pursue their racist propaganda. Le Pen will continue to pretend to defend the people while she is, in fact, against an increase in the minimum wage.
The campaign for the parliament takes on an important character in expressing politically the anger of workers and young people. The coming months can become very important. This period 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 1st of May must fire the starting gun of this orientation with massive demonstrations in all the cities of France of the trade unions, the Popular Union and organisations and associations fighting against racist and sexist discrimination… And the trade unions should make this 1st of May the launch of an organised fightback and make a call for a big day of united warning strike action to take place as early as May against Macron and, in particular, against increasing the retirement age to 64 or 65.
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 meaning of the work of Gauche Révolutionnaire in the weeks to come. Join us!