The French far-left's campaign in the European election



The French far-left's campaign in the European election

By Stanislav Demidjuk

MONTPELLIER — The success of the French far-left Lutte Ouvriere-Ligue Communiste Revolutionaire (LO-LCR) list in the June European elections was a milestone, symbolised by the election of five deputies to the European Parliament. It confirms the consolidation of the French revolutionary left as a significant and stable political force that must be seriously reckoned with.

The long years of la lente impatience (slow impatience) — the constant and dedicated militant activity of thousands of men and women — finally convinced almost a million French citizens to vote for a clear anti-capitalist, revolutionary communist political platform.

The abstention rate of 53% in France, where voting is not obligatory, reflected the general tendency throughout Europe. The European election has traditionally been an unpopular election. Its importance has been minimised by the bourgeoisie and the technocrats so that they could be left to do whatever they wanted to.

Of the 15 million or so who voted in France, more than 1 million returned blank ballot papers. The abstentions and blank papers were the result of the lack of credibility of the traditional political parties, left and right.

The failure of the right and the extreme-right to present any coherent project produced very poor results for them. The Socialist Party, while maintaining its dominance, had expected to do much better and now has to contend with a weakened position within the coalition government that rules France.

The Greens made considerable progress, winning nine seats from scratch, but now have to live with their extremely ambitious, media-hyped campaign star co-leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit. This liberal-libertarian, who backed NATO's war on Serbia, relentlessly proclaims that he is closer to the right than the ruling social-democrats. He firmly believes that capitalism can be clean and “ecologically correct”.

The big loser was the Communist Party (PCF). It presented a list of Communist and non-Communist candidates who rarely agreed on the same issues at the same time, a list which nobody could understand. The PCF's general secretary, Robert Hue, continues to blindly advocate his disastrous “open to anybody” strategy despite the party's 6.78% election tally — its lowest in history.

The 5.2% of the vote gained by the LO-LCR list — a clearly defined revolutionary, Trotskyist electoral coalition — was an incredible feat. The prophets of the end of communism, class struggle, Marxism and revolution received a slap in the face. So did the apolitical and anti-political contingents who claim individualism is the only truth and Disneyland is the only utopia possible.

During the six-month campaign, the LO and LCR organised, together and separately, more than 200 public meetings throughout the country attended by more than 35,000 people, a number no other political party attained. Six thousand people attended the end-of-campaign meeting in Paris.

A common and vital aspect of the meetings, apart from unexpectedly high attendance and enthusiasm, was the high percentage of people who had never been seen before at local LO-LCR activities.

In Montpellier, where 600 people attended a joint LO-LCR meeting featuring LCR leader Alain Krivine and LO leader Arlette Larguiller, 50% were unknown to local militants. In Nimes, the figure was 60% of the 500 attendees. This tendency was witnessed all over the country, in both urban and rural areas. It confirms that an important political breakthrough was achieved, irrespective of the election score.

Though the national LO-LCR list vote was 5.2%, in nine regions and 31 departments it was more than 6% and in the northern region of Pas-de-Calais it reached 7.22%. In the traditionally PCF-controlled outer Parisian regions of Seine St Denis it reached 7.41%, in St Denis 9.73%, Montreuil 9.39% and Aubervilliers 9.69%.

The LO-LCR list surpassed the PCF vote in five regions, 21 departments and more than 50 large cities, including Paris, Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Rennes, Roubiaux, Dunkerque, Rouen, Metz, Besancon, Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand — an unprecedented event. In the small towns of Grand-Synthe and Guesnain the list obtained 11.4% and 14% respectively. This confirms that a considerable section of PCF members and supporters voted for the LO-LCR.

Almost 1 million people in a country which still has a high standard of living and rights, despite increasing degradation, voted for a radical, socialist project and program, and for a truly democratic Europe and a democratic and socialist France.

Five revolutionary deputies — one man and four women — will now sit in the European Parliament, working with other revolutionary deputies to form a strong parliamentary group. The LCR and LO, strengthened by not only the results but also the positive collaboration between two organisations, have decided to continue to work together to prepare for the municipal elections in 2001. They are committed to building and uniting a new, widely based democratic socialist and revolutionary movement.

[Stanislav Demidjuk is an Australian-born member of the LCR living in Montpellier.]