The results of the legislative elections were a major blow for Macron. His electoral alliance, named “Ensemble” [Together] in a final panic before the shipwreck, only obtained 245 deputies, compared with 360 in 2017. This is far from the majority of 289 that Macron needs to reliably push through his measures as he has done for the past five years.
It is therefore a real setback, which confirms that Macron has a minority position politically in the country. As we said just after the first round, this new blow for the ‘president of the rich’ will be an encouragement for workers’ struggles.
The demands that have been made through millions of votes in the presidential and legislative elections must be stridently pushed forwards by the new militant left deputies who have been elected. And this will fuel the struggles of workers in the weeks to come: for higher wages and a minimum wage of 1,500 euros, for the defence of public services, for pensions at 60… Let’s organise ourselves to prepare for workers’ struggles and to fight against capitalism.
The defeat is even profound for Macron’s party, La Rem [La République en Marche], which has only 160 deputies, down from 308 elected in 2017 (although many had already fled the ship). Macron, in his televised address on Wednesday 22 June, claims to have “heard the message” and is looking for allies to form a government with or to support his bills on a “case by case” basis. After having been deaf to the demands of recent years, whether during the Yellow Vests movement, the pensions strikes, the strikes in public services, youth struggles against selection through Parcoursup [the university application system] and the bac Blanquer [changes to the baccalaureate exams by Jean-Michel Blanquer], Blanquer being a former Minister of Education who was eliminated in the election first round due to receiving only 18.8% of the vote, Macron is now blind to the electoral results.
All he can hope for is support from the traditional right, the Republicans [LR], or from Le Pen’s National Rally [NR], or even from some of the Parti Socialiste [PS] candidates who stood against the left coalition NUPES [New Ecological and Social People’s Union]. However, the Republicans continue their decline, now down to 61 deputies from 112 in 2017 (194 in 2012, and 313 in 2007). The right has suffered a further setback as its policies are the same as Macron’s, and LR only retains seats in the neighbourhoods and localities, often very rich, where it has local positions.
So how will this be done? LR wants to increase the pension age to 67 (logical, the bourgeois do not work in factories) while Macron wants to increase it to 65. Seeking an agreement with LR, which will therefore necessarily be even more aggressive against workers, risks increasing discontent and opposition to Macron’s measures.
As for the RN, its result is surprising because even though it had more than 200 qualifying for the second round, it would usually lose many of its duels against La Rem candidates and even against the left. But there again, the potent anger and hostility to Macron was the strongest factor. Few wanted to vote for a Macronist candidate against an RN candidate, and on the other hand, in the event of a duel between a candidate from the left NUPES and the RN, more than 30% of voters on the right voted for the RN, and 60% abstained, according to Ipsos.
In many regions, often very impoverished by years of destructive policies against public services and industry, the RN has been more successful than usual in mobilising its electorate, such as in Pas-de-Calais, Grand Est, the Eastern Pyrenees, or the South-East. It’s also because it used a simple slogan, presenting itself as “the only opposition to Macron”, although obviously the RN is not.
Indeed, the day after the elections, Le Pen said that the RN deputies would be a “constructive opposition” to Macron’s politics. That’s a long way from “defending the people” and from defending the rights of workers or public services. Moreover, the RN is against wage rises, against pensions at 60, and even against the restoration of the tax on large fortunes (it must also be said that the Le Pen family are multimillionaires).
So how will the RN carry out its “constructive opposition”? Its 89 deputies are far from being a homogeneous group, the RN having very few political cadres, and being a party that flirts with the grassroots electorate while being led by fairly wealthy politicians who are in reality only seeking to make a career. In fact, on many issues, the RN is as much a defender of the capitalists as Macron.
The good result of NUPES
With 6.5 million votes (against 3.5 million for the RN) NUPES achieved a very good result, even though the number of elected deputies is less than hoped for. It came very close to winning in several dozen constituencies (short of 78 votes out of more than 31,000 in the 1st of Seine Maritime, Rouen, or just 200 short in the 1st of Calvados, Caen, and so on, with the record being 4 votes short out of more than 38,000 votes in the 8th district of Seine et Marne…).
But with 145 deputies (the government refuses to count in the NUPES agreement the candidates elected from territories such as Polynesia, Reunion, or West Indies Guyana although local formations like Tavini in Polynesia are part of the NUPES agreement), NUPES is therefore the largest opposition coalition to Macron. And within NUPES, 74 deputies are in the France Insoumise [FI] group, which had only 17 in 2017.
This therefore shows real potential because it is clearly the FI deputies who can play a real role in bringing workers and young people together around a programme to fight against Macron and capitalism.
NUPES is not only very heterogeneous, but some within it have in fact not even campaigned around the central points of the agreement. PCF [Communist Party] candidates within NUPES often campaigned strongly on raising wages, for pensions at 60, defending public services, and so on. So they rightly highlighted the points of the NUPES programme that were most relevant to workers, young people, and the majority of the population.
Many of the PCF deputies were therefore re-elected with a very strong increase in votes compared to 2017. But in the end, the PCF won only one new seat, in Pas-de-Calais, against the RN. In some areas, the PCF candidates did not want to highlight their participation in NUPES and the alliance with FI and Mélenchon, the sectarian fallback line of Fabien Roussel, former PCF presidential candidate (where he had 800,000 votes, and Mélenchon needed 400,000 more to get into the presidential second round) – which leaves bad traces. Especially as the PCF leader again showed his political colours by declaring when he left his meeting with Macron on 21 June that the PCF “had already participated in a government of national unity with De Gaulle, that is not what shocks us”. Except that without going into details, that is what is shocking. It is giving a gift to Macron by presenting a government of national unity as a possibility. The labour movement, the workers, have no interest in participating in a government with the bourgeoisie and its parties, and in 1945 that was done as the French bourgeoisie was starting colonial wars and was crushing the working class to restore its capitalist domination.
The PCF militants who sincerely defend workers, the unity of all anti-capitalist forces in the struggles, cannot allow Roussel to use them in this way when, on the contrary, it is necessary to build a struggle and mass opposition to Macron. Even though the PCF has only 12 deputies (its group will be added to by deputies from Tavini and leftist deputies from Reunion Island) it must play a role in building the battles to come in the next weeks for higher wages.
Europe Ecology Les Verts [EELV – the Greens] benefited the most from the NUPES agreement, going from 0 deputies to 23. But we don’t know how unified they will be, when some are for a ‘punitive ecology’ with tax rises hitting the population, or are against price freezes. And many of the EELV leaders believe that capitalism is not the main cause of ecological disaster.
As for the PS the agreement with NUPES saved it its deputies by maintaining the number at 28. But the PS candidates within NUPES in some cases simply wiped out any mention of NUPES from their candidacy and didn’t campaign on the basis of NUPES’ demands. At first, they will be forced, under pressure from voters and other parties in NUPES, to support policies challenging Macron, but for how long?
The possibility of a new party of struggle
France Insoumise can therefore play a major role in the coming period. It would certainly have been politically clearer though to campaign in these elections around slogans of struggle against Macron’s policies, rather than sometimes using slogans that were abstract for the majority of young people and workers, such as “elect Mélenchon prime minister”.
The FI deputies will be real opponents of Macron, there is no doubt about that. They must in the coming days fight for a general increase in wages, if necessary by filing a law for it, to put it in the public debate. That would make it possible to convey this proposal into the streets, to the thousands of activists who built the campaign with enthusiasm and energy rarely seen for legislative elections. It would also allow workers to take it up in their workplaces, the unions to also campaign and organise strikes and struggles – and some are already underway.
But also, time must not be wasted by repeating the mistake of 2017 when no structuring and no form of organisation was offered to new activists. Not only are structures needed so that the collectives created continue to meet and act, but it is also necessary for FI itself to become a militant, mass, democratic political force, with meetings and structures both locally and at the level of the regions and nationally.
La Gauche Révolutionnaire [Revolutionary Left] campaigned and helped organise FI in a number of places. This first defeat of Macron is a step forward. But we also think that a new mass party is needed, of struggle, democratic, that will allow tens of thousands of young people and workers to organise themselves, to continue to formulate a programme which defends their interests. Such a party of struggle against capitalism will become indispensable as the struggle against policies in the service of the ultra-rich will increase, in France, but also everywhere in Europe and the world, as the economic crisis develops further.
It will be a means of discussing together the real alternative to this system, and how to achieve socialism, by means of a public economy, planned democratically by the workers and the population, making it possible to solve the ecological problems, and to put an end to wars, misery, racism, sexism… It is all this that we invite you to discuss with us, while organising ourselves now to prepare for the struggles against Macron and capitalism.