French election: Left wins most seats – No alliance with Macron and the capitalists! 

(Photo: creative commons)

French President Emmanuel Macron had “thrown [his] unpinned grenade in our legs” [in his own words] on 9 June, by dissolving the Assembly. He gave Jordan Bardella’s RN (far-right National Rally), winner of the European elections in France, the opportunity to place himself at the head of the government. 

The results of the first round of election on Sunday 30 June confirmed this threat. With 33%, the RN won a record number of votes. They capitalised on the immense anger against Macron, and racism which his government has not stopped stoking. Their votes increased with a very high turnout, but also because many young people (2 in 3) and workers, chose not to vote, disgusted or despairing. 

In the second round on 7 July, many youth and workers used their vote for the Nouveau Front Populaire (New Popular Front – NFP) electoral alliance to block the RN. This tactic worked: we avoided an ultra-reactionary right-wing government, even more racist and also at the service of the capitalists! 

The NFP has the highest number of deputies, 180. Some who abstained in the first round went to vote for the candidate of the NPF or against the RN on 7 July – notably a whole section of young people aged 18 to 34 (35-38%). This is a relief for a vast majority of young people and workers who do not want more authoritarianism, chaos, divisions and attacks on our living and working conditions. 

Macron can still play his hand, he can appoint the prime minister and thus play a part in determining the political orientation of the future government. But the “unpinned grenade” has bounced back towards his legs.  

There is no doubt about it, he will seek to divide the NFP, targeting its left participant La France Insoumise (LFI) and LFI leader Jean Luc Mélenchon. But his room for manoeuvre is narrow. Macron is seeking support from Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS), the Greens (EELV – already used to carrying out policies for the capitalists, the ‘labor’ law known as El Khomri in 2016, for example), and from the classic right of the LR (conservatives). 

The Assembly dissolution confirms a fragmentation of the political situation with three major blocs: the RN, Macron’s Ensemble party, and France Insoumise – the biggest force of the NFP with the most deputies (71 out of 180). Within these blocs, some parties such as LR (39 MPs) and the PS (64 MPs) are divided on the alliances to be made in order to continue their careers and continue to serve the interests of the capitalists to the detriment of the majority of the population and workers. 

The RN is the party with the most deputies (126 RN + 17 LR-RN). The Macronists and the right, including the RN, have already passed laws together, such as the Asylum and Immigration Law. Clearly, if Macron’s policies are not challenged and defeated by mass mobilisations, they will continue to pave the way for the rise of the RN. 

When workers and youth struggle together, Bardella and Macron lose their grip and divisions begin to erode. It is vital for workers to struggle to win better living and working conditions. To be able to turn the tide in the face of Macron, the RN and the capitalists, we must unite around our demands, while fighting against all the divisions that this capitalist system engenders. There is no capitalism without racism or discrimination. 

A programme at the service of the majority of the population, workers and young people, is needed. The NFP’s programme promises to reduce the retirement age from 64, increase the monthly minimum wage to €1600 net, freeze prices, provide real public services, and also to assert a position against war, especially in Gaza. 

These are emergency measures. An NFP government will have to put them in place. But implementing this programme implies a confrontation with Macron and the interests of the capitalists. It’s inevitable. But this is not what part of the NFP, especially the PS-EELV, defends. Macron knows this very well and will therefore try to fracture it. 

But very important sections of workers remember so-called ‘left’ governments previously that have smashed public services, carrying out policies for the rich and the capitalists. The mistrust is therefore great, and rightly so. Any coalition with Macron would be a betrayal of NFP voters and the interests of the majority of the population because it would make it impossible to implement a programme in our interests. 

In the elections, we did not have any confidence in the candidates in the NFP who, in office, are pursuing a ‘Macron-compatible’ policy (Hollande, Delga and the others). After having surfed on the NFP vote, often carried by the militant force that is France Insoumise, the Macron-compatible will not hesitate to make a pact with him.  

The pretext of the risk from RN does not hold. We have not forgotten the demands of the NFP programme. La France Insoumise has often been a compass for all those who want to resist and win against Macron, the RN and the big capitalists. There must be no question of La France Insoumise entering this type of coalition.  

Political instability remains. Macron wanted to take our breath away and exhaust us with an untenable political pace and the fear of a Bardella-Macron government. And now he says he wants to take his time to appoint a prime minister! 

In addition to the political instability, the French economy is likely to fall into recession in the coming months. The capitalists and any government at their service will try to pass laws against the unemployed, continue to dismantle public services, rot the future of young people. 

The need to put an end to this policy without further delay is raised. The labour movement, trade unions and parties defending workers were unable to cope with the scale of attacks last year. And, in part, this explains how the RN has been able to carve out a place for itself on the political scene. There is no question of having a peaceful period without massive strikes or struggle! 

Whether with a pro-Macron and pro-capitalist coalition government, or with a New Popular Front government, to ensure that we no longer suffer defeats without a real battle, we must organise!  

Join Gauche Revolutionnaire, to discuss and put into action revolutionary Marxist ideas, to get involved and commit to the fight against Macron, the capitalists and for an authentically socialist, democratic society, free from exploitation, war, racism, sexism, and gender and sexual orientation discrimination. 

We are fighting to strengthen our camp, and support any positive steps in this direction. Since the 1990s, workers and young people no longer have a party of our own, in which to organise. Meanwhile the capitalists have the majority of the media and parties at their service. 

We need a real mass party of workers against capitalism and for socialism, a political tool to discuss programme, coordinate and structure our actions, workers and young people together. At the moment, this force does not exist. 

Today, La France Insoumise has a special place in the political situation. With more than 100,000 new registrants in one month, France Insoumise, Mélenchon and its leaders have a responsibility. They should, without further delay, raise their voices and arm themselves politically by creating a real party from La France Insoumise, around a programme of struggle against capitalism that activists can discuss and develop collectively.  

By calling for a massive membership of a stronger more effective, more inclusive and democratic political force, thousands more workers and youth can be brought into political struggle against capitalism. 

  • This article is a translation of an article first published in French online on 9 July 

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July 2024