The move to the right by the Socialist Party (PS), which drew the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Greens along in its wake, has been so clearly against the wishes of the support base of these parties that a significant vacuum in French politics has opened up to the left.
Even sections of the capitalist media refer to the PS as a "social-liberal" rather than "social-democratic" party, and dismiss the PCF and the Greens as its "satellites".
The New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) and the Left Party (PG) represent two different responses to this opening.
The PG was launched last year by former PS senator Jean-Luc Melenchon and a handful of other deputies who left the PS with him. The party held its congress from January 30 to February 1.
It claims around 4000 members.
While the PG's program is not especially developed, it aspires to redistribute wealth via a "Scandinavian" welfare state model and draws on identification with the tradition of Jean Jaures, a pre-World War I socialist leader.
The party's attempt to position itself in relation to the NPA is explained in an opinion piece titled "Revolution yes, but via the ballot box", in the February 7 Le Monde by François Delapierre, a sociologist and delegate to the PG congress.
Delapierre said, "The policy question facing the NPA is revolution. It has to be asked of them then, what exactly this revolution is and by what route the NPA proposes to get there."
He continued, "For our part ... we reject all means other than that of democracy. If a revolution is necessary, then it must be done through the ballot box.
"This is the lesson of the century past. And even the century now beginning, as shown by the democratic revolution sweeping Latin America. That's how we're inspired by the strategy of Evo Morales, who asks the people to vote, vote and vote again; not Che Guevara guerrilla fan clubs!"
Delapierre misrepresents the historical debate between revolutionary socialism and reformist socialism. In dispute is not democracy, but rather the nature of the state and the preparedness of the capitalist class to use violence to stop any measures that would take economic and political power out of its hands.
To be sure, the Bolivian and Venezuelan revolutionary processes have respected the pre-existing constitutional forms.
However at numerous turns the mass mobilisation of the population has been essential to stop violent attempts by the capitalists to quash these revolutions.
The Latin American experience confirms the revolutionary view, not that of Delapierre.
He might also get a surprise if he found out how popular a figure Che remains among the participants in these democratic revolutions! For instance, Morales, who has hailed Che as a martyr, led events to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death at the site of Che's murder in Bolivia at the hands of a CIA agent.
Whether he is genuinely or wilfully ignorant of these facts is not evident from the article. However it demonstrates the opportunity and desire to create a socialist project that is qualitatively different to the NPA.
However, given that the PG is first and foremost an electoral party, it's greatest concern is that the NPA agree to united electoral tickets in time for the European elections.
Mélenchon pleaded with the NPA to recognise the "historical responsibility" to sign up to a three-way ticket with the PCF.