||Issue No. 133||26 April 2002|
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
Letters to the Editor
Why did Lionel Jospin, the Socialist party candidate, get only 16% of the vote in the first round of Presdiential elections in france and over 30% stay away?
It wasn't because the revolutionary left split the vote. It was perfectly correct for the Trotskyist and revolutionary left to stand candidates. They stood because they disagreed fundamentally with Jospin's pro-capitalist anti-worker policies and wanted to give voice to ordinary working people. They received a combined vote of 13%.
Jospin won parliamentary elections five or six years ago on the back of massive strikes across France. Those strikes won him power and forced him to introduce a 35 hour week. But the 35 hours he introduced was a compromise and Jospin couldn't and wouldn't satisfy workers' expectations.
If Jospin had governed for workers rather than capitalists the revolutionary left would have received an abysmal vote.
There was massive disillusionment with Jospin's Government as it moved to become the French equivalent of New Labour in the UK.
On top of that Jospin ran a Beazley type campaign - he didn't differentiate himself at all from Chirac. This is because his politics are basically the same as Chirac's - pro-capitalist.
There was clearly a swing to the revolutionary left. 13% of French people consciously voted for Trotskyist candidates who talked about capitalism and revolution.
What we may be witnessing is the beginning of the decline of social democracy in Europe. As society fractures from the centre, some are moving to the far left.
As to the so-called swing to the Right, in fact the fascist Le Pen's vote increased only 2% over the last Presidential election.
This is not a massive swing to the fascist right, although the fact that Le Pen is the second candidate in the run off may (and I stress the word may) give him and his politics some added respectability.
The spontaneous demonstrations in Paris and other places against Le Pen show there is real hope.
But greater forces will be needed.
A united front of all the forces of the Left - the trade unions and the political parties - has the power to stop him. In that struggle it will be the revolutionary Left which proves itself the best fighter against fascism and for working people.
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