Class struggle and French elections – Workers World
Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche party, whose professional background as a banker has prepared him for his current role as President of the Bankers, came first in France’s April 10 presidential election with 27.4%. Macron is a supporter of the European Union, which is essentially the organ of European banks.
The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, representative of the National Rally, in her third race for President, came second with 24.1% of the votes cast.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the anti-capitalist and labor party France Insoumise, came third behind Le Pen with 21.5% of the vote.
Presidents in France are elected by direct universal suffrage, usually in two rounds. In the first round, candidates from various parties compete. The two best voters of the first round compete in the second and the winner of this round becomes president with extended powers.
Since this method of selecting presidents came into effect in 1965, there have been two ballots. There is no advance voting or postal voting.
Le Pen’s RN is a party that wants to change the French constitution so it can legally discriminate against people whose national identity is not French – like the millions living in France whose ancestors came from Africa or the Middle East. The RN calls for a total ban on the public display of Islamic symbols. Le Pen is for a complete ban on abortion and for allowing discrimination against women.
Le Pen mocked Ukraine, not really opposing NATO expansion, but at the same time pleading for France to leave NATO. She responds to questions about Ukraine by opposing attacks on French living standards caused by war and sanctions, but also says she is of no use to the unions – which defend the living standards of workers.
Six left-wing parties were in the running for this election. At the beginning of March, Mélenchon’s FI had an approval rate of 13%. When the war in Ukraine started, two of the presumed left-wing parties, the Greens and the Socialist Party, each with a substantial percentage of approval, immediately supported the role of NATO and urged France to take strong action. to support Ukraine.
FI, on the other hand, demanded an immediate ceasefire and a Europe-wide security conference. Mélenchon opposed economic sanctions against Russia and opposed sending arms to the Zelensky government. He also demanded that France withdraw from NATO. These positions are shared by the French Communist Party. (France TV Info, March 9.)
FI has the reputation of being a party of struggle, a party which makes things happen and which is open to young people. She is an employment activist and one of her well-known activists, François Ruffin, helped found the Nuits Debout movement and led a fight for a return to work that served as the basis for the hit film “Merci, mécène!” or “Thank you, boss!” (Available on Netflix France)
This reputation and the desire of progressives in France to cast a “useful vote” in the first round led to a strong movement of support for FI, as it was the only left-wing party that had a chance of qualifying for the second round. round.
Three electoral arenas in France: presidential, parliamentary, the street
France is the seventh largest economy in the world. It has an aircraft carrier, nuclear weapons and military bases in a number of African and Caribbean countries. Islam is the religion with the largest number of practitioners in France.
Since French parliamentarians run in single-member constituencies, it is easier for a small party, whether left or right, to win a seat. The same two-tower system is used.
France is a country of protests, where everyone, from workers to students to lawyers, doctors and judges, take to the streets.
Sometimes it’s a mass movement like the yellow vests taking to the streets across France to protest against rising taxes, rising rents and police violence. The CGT, a militant and very progressive union currently led by a Spanish immigrant, has led millions of workers and young people into the streets, to protest against changes to the labor code and pension programs.
The French working class faces a great challenge: winning Le Pen would be a big step towards fascism and would disrupt solidarity between workers of diverse ethnic or religious origins.
With no left-wing candidate in the second round of the April 24 elections, progressives must rally against Le Pen while giving no support or confidence to Macron. The main resistance will have to be in the street.