France: Poll a tale of missed left gains

Mainstream media coverage of the first round of France's March 23 local elections stressed the rise in support for the far-right, racist National Front (FN).

The only other stories found worthy of comment were the sharp decline in support for the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of president Francois Hollande and the rise in abstention to a record 36.5%.

Ukraine: French left leader Melenchon slams West's hypocrisy

Jean-Luc Melenchon is co-president of France's Left Party and a member of the European parliament. Melenchon is also leader of the broader Left Front, involving other parties such as the French Communist Party, on whose ticket he won about 11% of the vote in the 2012 presidential elections.

Below, Melenchon gives his perspective on the crisis in Ukraine ― from Russia's actions in Crimea, to the West's saber rattling, to the mass protests that brought down an unpopular government and the new regime, featuring fascist forces, that has taken its place.

France: Activist pressure forces Left Front truce

To an almost audible sigh of relief from its tens of thousands of activists, the two main forces in France’s nine-party Left Front ― the French Communist Party and the Left Party of Jean-Luc Melenchon ― have called a halt to hostilities.

The infighting was undermining the front's chances in France’s March municipal elections and those of the aligned Party of the European Left in the May 25 European poll.

France: National Front support grows, Left Front debate sharpens

October has been a month of sharp shifts in French politics.

On October 4, an Ifop poll in the French weekly Nouvel Observateur showed the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen leading voting intentions for next year's European elections with the support of 24% of those interviewed ― up 3% in six months.

On October 13, in the second round of the by-election for the canton of Brignoles (in the Mediterranean department of Var), the FN easily defeated the mainstream conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), by 53.9% to 46.1%.

French workers fight back against pension attack

Since October 12, France has been gripped by intensifying mass opposition by workers and students to proposed counter reforms to the country’s pensions system by the right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Public opposition to the attack has been highlighted by three national strikes each involving millions of people, two national student strikes and a growing wave of indefinite strikes in a range of industries — most notably the crippling shutdown of the oil industry.

France: Big protests as movement debates way forward

French workers and students have mobilised in large numbers again to oppose changes in pension laws that will raise the age at which workers are able to retire.

The seventh national strike in as many weeks took place on October 28, as indefinite strikes in many industries against the changes entered their third week.

The protests took place despite the government’s pension bill passing through France’s parliament on October 27.

France: Pensions law enacted, protests continue

President Nicolas Sarkozy enacted a new law on November 10 that increases the retirement age of French workers. The move came just days after more than a million workers and students mobilised across France against the law.

The November 6 protests were the eighth national strike and protests since September 7 against the bill — although it was the easily the smallest of the mobilisations.

France: Huge march blasts austerity, demands democratic renewal

The largest left protest ever against the policies of a French Socialist Party (PS) government took place in Paris on May 5. To the stirring sounds of the protest anthem “On Lache Rien” (“We Don’t Give In”), up to 180,000 workers, pensioners, unemployed and students marched from the Bastille to Place de la Nation.

Mali: France prepares for extended military occupation

France’s National Assembly and Senate have voted to extend the country’s military intervention in Mali. A resolution passed both houses of parliament on April 22 with a single vote against.

Three days later, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2100, creating a policing mission (known as MINUSMA) starting July 1. Its projected size is 11,200 soldiers and 1440 police.

France: Hollande's support drops further as tax scandal poses need for radical change

The admission on April 2 by former French Socialist Party (PS) government budget minister Jerome Cahuzac that he did have a Swiss bank account for tax evasion purposes has set off a storm of disgust and fury in France.

The already unloved government of prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has been shaken to its core. President Francois Hollande’s popularity has sunk faster and lower than that of any president in the history of France’s Fifth Republic.

It is not hard to see why. Here was the minister entrusted with the fight against tax fraud found out to be a lying tax cheat.

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