France: Combating the major risk of the far right (plus statements by Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste)

NFP march

First published by International Viewpoint.

Whatever the absurd scenario imagined by Macron in announcing of the dissolution of the Assembly on the evening of the European elections, the practical effect is rolling out a red carpet under the feet of the Rassemblement National, giving it the chance to win a majority of seats on 9 July.

Since last Monday, the whole of the workers’ movement and the social and political forces committed to democratic rights have been up in arms to prevent the extreme right of Pétain and the fascists of the Militia from returning to power in France 80 years after their emulators were ousted, and from applying a policy of “national preference”, racist discrimination and the undermining of social and democratic rights, while at the same time being subject to the interests of the big capitalist groups, like the regimes of the same ilk in Argentina, Italy and Hungary.

In the coming weeks, it will be time to draw all the political lessons from the last few years, which have seen a steady rise in the far right, but the first observation is simple:

The Rassemblement National and its allies from the Républicains and Reconquête won 33.18% of the votes cast, more than 10 million votes. The Nouveau Front Populaire won 28.1%, and Macron’s candidates 21.60%.

This result came three weeks after the European elections in France, which saw the RN list already well ahead with 30.5% of the vote, more than double the list of the presidential camp, with 14% of the vote (led by the president of the Renew Europe group, Valérie Hayer). The lists of the four parties of the former NUPES (LFI, PS, Greens and PCF) came in behind in scattered order, even though they totalled 30.7% of the vote.

Faced with a fractured left, the RN has been able to capitalize on its place in the French political landscape over the last two years.

Like many other far-right forces in Europe, it has applied the “respectabilization strategy” to appear as a force that respects the institutions and, above all, is prepared to govern in compliance with European rules, following the example of Giorgia Meloni. This does not prevent the RN from making an intensive effort to inculcate in its cadres the fundamentals of defending the European identity of the New Right and GRECE, with the Iliad Institute.

All this smoothing work went hand in hand with the desire to appear as the only force in opposition to Macron during the social movements that have marked the last two years, in particular the mobilization against pension reform in the first six months of 2023 and the farmers’ movement last winter. This was accompanied by an editorial line in the major press organs that played to the full this de-demonization.

On the other hand, for various reasons, for the past two years the components of NUPES have not built this alliance of left-wing parties as a common militant force, accompanied by the search for militant convergence with the forces of the social and trade union movement.

Since 2022, even during the mobilization against pension reform, the left was present on the streets and in the assembly to block the extension of the retirement age, but without coming forward united around a plan of social measures commensurate with the most powerful mobilization in 20 years and without taking any united initiative to assert itself politically during the movement.

Worse still, the parties making up the NUPES openly announced the end of their alliance at the very moment when, after pensions, inflation and growing job insecurity made it even more urgent to build a front for a policy in line with social needs. As a result, neither in working-class neighbourhoods nor in rural areas, and independently of the grassroots work carried out by many activists, did the left emerge as a national force capable of changing everyday life and claiming to embody a political alternative to Macron and the far right.

What’s more, the government never stopped trying to legitimize the RN as a respectable opposition and to demonize France Insoumise as a threat to democracy, even pushing part of the left to “break with Mélenchon”.

The concerns of the working classes are obviously first and foremost purchasing power, wages and energy prices, health and housing, and the loss of public services, particularly in rural and suburban areas and in the working-class neighbourhoods of large conurbations. All this at a time when social injustice, a tax policy and budgetary choices that benefit the upper classes have further accentuated inequalities. At the same time, gender-based violence and state violence continue to make themselves felt on a daily basis, with the only response being a police presence and an Islamophobic, security-oriented discourse targeting the racialized working classes.

The far right was therefore at ease in developing its discourse, often developing the themes put forward by the government itself on immigration and insecurity (the RN itself set the tone for the latest immigration law last January). What’s more, it has surfed on the anxiety-inducing climate distilled by the 24-hour news media, whose editorial line echoes the far-right’s theses on the insecurity-immigration nexus.

A suicidal dissolution

Macron was blocked in the National Assembly by his lack of a majority, limiting his room for manoeuvre, but faced with the disavowal of the European elections he made a suicidal political calculation.

At the moment when the RN was riding the wave of its electoral victory and his own party had just suffered a magisterial disavowal, the choice of dissolution was quite simply suicidal, offering the RN an ultra-short campaign for which they could benefit from the same breath of air that the president’s parties have often benefited from in France. Since 2002, the presidential election and that of the assembly have been held in quick succession, a few weeks apart giving an almost automatic advantage to the president’s party. Macron was offering a similar situation to the RN on a platter. He might have hoped, with a disunited left, to play the saviour once again against the far right, himself provoking the electroshock of the threat of Bardella and Le Pen taking the helm of state.

But from Sunday evening, the reaction came from social movements, trade unions and in particular Sophie Binet [leader of the major trade-union confederation the CGT], calling for a Popular Front against the RN. While various calculations were still at work, this unitive pressure from militant networks imposed unity on the left to fight the threat together.

Against all expectations, given the problems and tensions accumulated over the previous months, the union was built with a programme taking up part of that drawn up for the NUPES and also echoing a joint declaration by the CGT, Solidaires, FSU and CFDT trade union forces. In less than a week (there were only five days in which to submit candidacies in 577 constituencies), the agreement, the programme and the distribution of constituencies were completed. The pleas from Macron’s camp for the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Greens not to put this new Popular Front into practice had no effect.

From then on, Macron’s scenario collapsed like a house of cards, and it only took a few days for his "primed grenade", as he described it to someone close to him, to explode in the middle of the Macronist camp.

Popular Front only alternative to RN

The Popular Front emerged as the only alternative to the threat posed by the RN, thereby appearing as the incarnation of its rejection by the vast majority of trade unions, social movements and associations. Destabilized by its defeat at the European elections and the lack of understanding of the presidential manoeuvre, the candidates of Macron’s coalition Ensemble went into the campaign without conviction.

On the right, the LR (Les Républicains) party exploded in mid-air, with its own president, Éric Ciotti, rallying to the RN as did Marion Maréchal, the spokeswoman for Reconquête (the party created in 2022 by Éric Zemmour), accentuating the polarization of the far right.

In just a few days, the hight stakes of this election led to an unprecedented mobilization of the electorate. Turnout was 66.71% of registered voters, the highest since 1997.

This surge in turnout was reflected in a high level of mobilization, albeit divided between the three blocs. Two contradictory phenomena emerged:

Although there was no surge in the RN vote which, having absorbed the bulk of the Renaissance (Macron’s party) electorate and two-fifths of that of the LR, nevertheless garnered 33% of the vote; there was a territorial homogenization of the Rassemblement national, clearly more marked in rural areas: out of 577 constituencies, the RN and its allies elected 39 deputies in thefirst round, led in 260 constituencies and were present in the second round in a total of 443 constituencies.

Macronism collapsed, with only two deputies elected in the first round, leading in the second round in 68 constituencies, and in a position to stand in a total of 321 constituencies (before the withdrawals on Tuesday evening).

The New Popular Front elected 31 MPs in the first round, are leading in 128, and qualifying in a total of 413, far more than in 2022. What is most notable is the urban concentration of the vote for the NFP. Twenty-one of the 31 elected in the first round were in the Paris region, particularly in Paris (where it should win two-thirds of the 18 seats) and the neighbouring districts. Similar successes, albeit to a lesser extent, were recorded in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Nantes and Strasbourg. The vote was otherwise concentrated in Brittany, the South-West, the Massif Central, Martinique and Guadeloupe and Réunion, with 6 out of 7 constituencies.

These results therefore show strength in the working-class districts of major cities and weakness among working-class populations in rural and suburban areas.

The second round poses the problem of building a democratic front to prevent the RN from obtaining an absolute majority of 289 seats in the National Assembly.

The Front populaire has clearly positioned itself by withdrawing its candidates who had come third against the RN.

The LR, who came out on top in the second round in only 19 constituencies, generally refused to position themselves between the Popular Front and the RN, while being clearly courted by the RN.
The Macronists, meanwhile, are split down the middle, from the point of view of their leaders, between the Ni Ni position of Edouard Philippe, the former prime minister, and those of voting for the Popular Front put forward by former ministers such as Clément Beaune. Gabriel Attal, the outgoing prime minister, said he wanted to "block the FN". A new splintering, a sign of the movement”s agony. Tuesday saw a succession of withdrawals by Ensemble. By 4 p.m., the number had risen to 75, out of the 325 candidates standing for the movement in the second round. This would leave around 100 constituencies with three candidates.

During this week, tens of thousands of activists have been mobilized and the trade union movement has multiplied its statements against the threat of a RN majority.

We must not rule out this possibility, because in all cases the number of RN elected representatives will be between 250 and 290, even if the upper range falls with the withdrawals. It is therefore the task of the moment to avoid this risk and – even if the worst is avoided, to maintain the mobilization on the left and not dissolve into a new combination in which Macron no doubt hopes, one last time, to be in the driving seat.

Thus there remains the question of mobilization and building a social and political front of resistance to the far right and all the combinations that would apply its policies. The worst thing we could do would be to repeat the splintering seen in recent years. The primary responsibility will therefore lie with the social and trade union movement to maintain a front of national and local unity of militant forces in workplaces and neighbourhoods, to oppose the abuses of the extreme right and, more than ever, to assert the demand for a united and radical alternative based on social needs.

Leon Crémieux is an activist of the Solidaires trade-union federation and of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA, France). He is a member of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International.

Strengthen the united and militant left, prevent the far right from coming to power

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (New Anti-Capitalist Party, NPA) 

Translation by International Viewpoint.

These general elections confirm the appalling danger of the far right, which is obtaining historically high scores. These scores are a combination of the development of nationalism and racism in certain sections of the population, the growing support of the ruling classes for the far right, relayed by some of the media, and the collapse of the right (Macronist as well as the traditional right Les Républicains) whose policies have disgusted the population. With the possible arrival in power of the Rassemblement National (RN) and its allies and supporters, the danger of neo-fascism is growing a little more in France.

The good news of this election is the resurgence of the left. Its high scores were achieved thanks to the unity of the political, campaigning and trade union forces, which mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate and campaign. This unity does not paint anyone red, it does not forget the responsibilities of the liberal policies pursued by governments claiming to be left-wing, from Mitterrand to Hollande1, in causing the disorientation and anger of the working classes who have suffered from them. This unity is based on the urgent need to implement the programme of the New Popular Front. But this unity around the New Popular Front is not at this stage strong enough to offset the dangerous pressure from the far right, the campaigns of slanderous accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism, the false and insulting symmetry between the “extremes” promoted by the Macronists, but also the doubts arising from the accumulated social defeats and about the solidity of unity on the left damaged by the internal conflicts of recent weeks.

To roll back the far right and push forward a fighting left, in a situation of deep crisis in capitalism, we need to strengthen the unity of action of the whole left. From the bottom to the top, we need to stand together and fight side by side: demonstrating against the far right and defending ourselves against attacks by fascist groupuscules, resisting anti-social, discriminatory or authoritarian measures, police and racist violence, sexist and sexual violence, defending increases in wages and social benefits, a return to full retirement at 60, bringing to life internationalist and anti-colonial solidarity with Palestine, Ukraine and Kanaky and more generally with all the peoples who are victims of French imperialism. It is by mobilizing together to change the balance of power that we can change life.

The NPA-L’Anticapitaliste calls on all left-wing political, trade union and community organizations - starting with the political forces that make up the New Popular Front - to meet as soon as possible, at local and national level, to implement joint actions wherever possible. Before and after the elections, in the ballot box and in the struggles, strengthening the left in action is the way to restore the confidence of the working classes in their own strengths.

Over the next few days, we need a popular upsurge against the dangerous rise of the far right, and we need to build the largest possible mobilizations and street demonstrations.

As for the second round of parliamentary elections next Sunday, we know that whatever happens, we will need a solid bloc of the social and political left to resist. Wherever the conditions are right for these candidates to win, we need to confirm and amplify the votes cast in the first round in favour of the New Popular Front and its allies.

The main challenge of this second round is still preventing the far right from taking office in a few days’ time, and this is an essential objective for our social camp. We know that the policies defended or put in place by the right, in particular Macronism in power, have largely helped to pave the way for the RN, by adopting some of its measures and helping to give it legitimacy, while increasingly attacking large sectors of the left. However, between two dangers, we must first do everything we can to eliminate the biggest and most immediate one.

Next Sunday, in view of the immediate interests of people of immigrant background, of the whole world of labour, of the defence of rights and public freedoms, it is imperative to defeat the RN, its allies and its supporters, preferably with a good left.

Beyond the second round, what was built at the heart of this campaign, a united and militant left, must continue: confirming a programme for a break with the past, feeding on and nurturing the mobilizations that are more necessary than ever, enabling as many people as possible to remain organized beyond these elections, a prerequisite for reviving a real fighting left.

In this context, the New Popular Front and all the organizations involved in the struggle, trade unions and associations, have a huge responsibility in the period ahead: to build the broadest possible united collectives and mobilizations in the face of the far right and Macronism (if it survives these elections), to convey the aspirations of the working classes and impose the measures in the NFP programme. In the ballot box and on the streets, defeat the RN, take up the fight for social progress, for the planet, for a different society!

Sunday 30 June 2024

Against Macron and the far right, unity in the streets and in the ballot box

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (New Anti-Capitalist Party, NPA) National Committee

Translation by International Viewpoint.

The results of the European elections sounded like a thunderclap. The score of the far right, followed by Macron’s announcement of the dissolution of the National Assembly, made it vital for the whole left - the parties, the unions and all the organizations of the workers’ movement - to unite and mobilize to give a voice to the aspirations of the working classes.

The result of this election, while not a real surprise, has forced our social camp to position itself rapidly in an unprecedented political situation. Several months ago, the polls were already predicting this catastrophe, which is notably the delayed result of the defeat of the mobilisation on pensions. The latter has in fact led to resignation among the working classes and renewed energy on the part of the far right. Those in power are not benefiting from their victory because it does not allow the ruling class to consolidate its positions in the overall context of the crisis of the system.

The results of the European elections were a continuation of those of the last presidential and legislative elections. In the 1930s, Trotsky predicted about France: “The displacements which have been noted have for us an importance not in themselves but only as symptoms of changes in the consciousness of the masses. They show that the petty-bourgeois centre has already begun to give way to the two extreme camps. That means that the remnants of the parliamentary regime are going to be increasingly eaten away. The extreme camps are going to grow. Clashes between them are approaching. It is not difficult to understand that this process is absolutely ines-capable.”2 The situation seems similar: the Macronist centre is weakening, the far right is strengthen-ing considerably, while the left is trying to rebuild itself.

This general trend is mirrored across Europe, although we won’t go into that in this article.

A danger that comes from afar

To make the popular classes pay for the crisis, the bourgeoisie may be ready to switch from authoritarian liberalism to a fascist solution (like Bolloré), while the proletariat is disoriented, partly demoralized and poorly organized, and the middle classes are increasingly looking to the far right, or even joining it.

The danger of a fascist ascent is growing, and it is possible that the far right will win a majority of deputies, or create the conditions for a grand coalition between the right and the far right to run the country. We need to be aware of this danger, which could accelerate the building of a neo-fascist force, with a series of measures attacking democratic and social rights head-on, physically attacking the workers’ movement and accelerating racist, LGBTIphobic and anti-women attacks.

All this is intimately linked to the situation of capitalism, which is in deep and multi-factorial crisis, and to the difficulties faced by the ruling classes in maintaining their profits, and by the imperialist powers in retaining their spheres of influence, particularly France, Russia and the United States. So the economic crisis continues, with inflation now combined with what was presented as the solution to the problem, higher interest rates. As a result, economic stagnation is intensifying, with growth of 0.1% in the third and fourth quarters of 2023, productivity and overall purchasing power stagnating, and social inequalities exploding. The economy is threatened by a crash, particularly in property, a sector in which bubbles have formed in China, while in the USA only 1/3 of loans were repaid in 2024 (compared with 99% in 2021), the Treasury is borrowing at rates above 4.5%, Standard & Poor’s has cut France’s rating from AA to AA- and the deficit is 5.5% of GDP instead of the expected 4.9%.

In such a context, the dominant classes are tempted by authoritarian solutions that allow them to increase exploitation tenfold and maintain their colonial domination. Faced with this, the solution can only come from rebuilding the proletariat’s confidence in its own strength, reconstituting the class for itself, so that it is capable of opposing the various representatives of the bourgeoisie and moving towards a confrontation with it, first to defend its rights, resist and win social victories, then to pave the way for an anti-capitalist break.

This perspective is our strategic line and determines our entire tactical orientation.

The dangerous game of dissolution

Macron’s response, with his gamble on dissolving the National Assembly, is accelerating the current process and increasing the fascist danger. The logic of this policy leads to a campaign for a republican front from Les Républicains to the left, in an attempt by the Macronists to regain a social and institutional base that will allow them to continue implementing its policies.

The Republican front is a dead end. By bringing together organisations from different classes with a view to conciliating and stabilizing the system, it demoralises the workers’ movement, the popular classes and their organizations, and sooner or later paves the way for fascism. Macron’s calculation could even be to lose the legislative elections and appoint Bardela as Prime Minister, hoping to counter-attack in the presidential elections. This kind of process is frighteningly dangerous.

However, Macron seems to have underestimated the capacity of the working class to react. Indeed, the experience accumulated over the last few years in the mobilizations and its unitary translation with the Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale (NUPES), has pushed the most right-wing sectors of the left that are conciliatory with Macronism, such as the PS, to refuse at this stage a republican front in order to ally themselves with the whole of the left.

Macron’s party seems to be in trouble, with the splintering of Les Républicains and the relative cohesion of the left, even if the latter is very fragile due to the deep disagreements that exist within it, between a Socialist Party (PS) that is very much integrated into the system, and La France Insoumise (LFI), which is much more anti-establishment and is trying to rally the most popular classes. However, the sequence is not over, and it is possible that the sirens of the Republican front will be heard again, between the two rounds or after the elections, particularly in the likely event that the Assembly does not have a majority.

A united front in the streets and at the ballot box

In this context, our party has thrown all its forces, however small, into the battle for a united front. The decline in the balance of forces between the classes and the dynamics of the current sequence - with the spontaneous demonstrations or those called by the workers’ movement against the far right and Macron - intimately link electoral unity and unity in the struggles. For the masses, it is totally coherent to demonstrate against the far right and to mobilise in an electoral campaign, hoping to achieve victory or, at the very least, prevent the arrival of the far right.

For us, unity at the ballot box is essentially tactical: we want to contribute to a defeat of the far right and Macron, or even enable a victory for the left, but we know deep down that the essential thing is played out in the self-activity of the masses and in social struggles. And, particularly, the ability of workers and working-class neighbourhoods to emerge as a political force. It is the mobilizations that produce the political balance of power, and that determine both a possible electoral victory and the possibility of continuing afterwards, against bourgeois policies and for a counter-offensive by the proletariat.

We have little control over the electoral agreement on the left, over its programmatic content and its major dynamics, even if we defend our policies at this level. What’s more, we are not even invited to the discussions! The major left-wing leaders essentially want to use us so as not to lose the votes of the most contentious sectors of the left. They have nevertheless managed to find a small place for us, with Philippe Poutou’s candidacy in the Aude. The space we will have, overall, we will have to find by elbowing.

Unity without losing our compass

We need to keep our bearings clear in terms of class struggle and strategy... all the more so as part of an alliance where the most right-wing sectors of the PS are represented, even Carole Delga and François Hollande!

But we note that the organizations that refuse to join this united dynamic (like LO, RP or the NPA-R) appear marginal and sectarian in view of what’s at stake in the situation, and consequently useless to our social camp.

The battle for a united front is opposed to the republican front, and combines the building of a balance of power on the streets with electoral unity. The challenge is to exert maximum influence through street mobilizations led by all the organizations of the workers’ movement, in particular the trade unions. The frameworks for electoral and fightback mobilization are not separate.

It is therefore within coalitions combining struggles and elections that we defend our policies and that we combat electoral illusions and point out the betrayals of the neoliberal left in power. We argue that the only guarantee for the working classes is to remain mobilized, to build social opposition in order to put elected deputies under the control of the social movement. We’re in a period where class contradictions are driving not towards conciliation but towards confrontation, and we need to explain this. The link between the actions for Palestine and the current movement is a very important point, with these connections being the presence of working-class neighbourhoods in the mobilization, the action against racism, against fascism and all forms of colonialism, both here and there.

Four essential objectives

We are pushing, wherever possible, for mass demonstrations, mobilizations in workplaces, among young people and in popular neighbourhoods so that the rejection of Macron’s brutal, anti-social policies and those of the far right are expressed in the streets and, where possible, through strikes.

We are helping to build a united front that brings together the entire political and social left without exception, in the streets and at the ballot box. To do this, we talk to all the organizations, from the bottom to the top, proposing general assemblies, meetings, everything possible to mobilise the proletariat. This concerns trade unions, but also associations and collectives, while respecting their autonomy, and political parties. We are in favour of all the organizations of the workers’ movement, of the social movement, taking part in the battle, going beyond the social and political divide. It is the movement of the proletariat that will determine victory or defeat, because it will or will not create a dynamic that will convince passive voters.

As part of this front, we are leading the battle to ensure that the programme is as radical as possible: we need measures of rupture to turn our backs on the capitalism that is destroying our lives and the planet, to break with anti-social, racist and repressive policies, and to stand in solidarity with the rights of peoples, particularly the Palestinians and the Ukrainians. We are also leading the debate on the need for mass mobilization and self-organization, with a view to building a counter-power.

We are continuing to develop our orientation of anti-capitalist rupture: capitalism is in deep crisis and is bringing us the worst, from wars to the extreme right in power. “Socialism or barbarism!” We need to break with this system, starting by implementing the demands made by social movements and the workers’ movement in recent months, which represent the basis for an alternative imposed by our mobilizations: retirement at 60; wage increases of 400 euros; a minimum wage of 1,800 euros; extension of free public services for all common goods (energy, transport, housing, but also health and education); an end to productivism and extractivism; the right of peoples to self-determination and the right to resistance in Palestine, Kanaky and Ukraine in particular; the opening up of borders; equal rights for all... To achieve this, we defend the need to organise over the long term, constructing a great political force “for rupture and the social transformation of society”, embodying a practice both unitary and revolutionary.


Our organization is ready for battle, either by taking the initiative or by participating in the collectives organizing action. We are not naïve, we know that the solution to the situation is not electoral, that it will be determined by class confrontations for which the electoral sphere is not the essential place, but rather an obligatory point of passage, given the illusions, hopes and aspirations of a large part of the popular classes, to go further. We are therefore publicly developing our orientation, our explanations, our programmatic axes, convinced that in this election there are nonetheless important issues at stake. There is, of course, the issue of who will win, and the possibilities that may or may not open up as a result. But with this sequence, we are also seeing the beginnings of elements of the recomposition of the left. At the moment, it is essentially in the struggles between the parties that these are perceptible. But who knows, a major movement of activist sectors, shaking up the balance of power and the apparatuses, could also open up prospects for the construction of a party for rupture and the revolutionary transformation of society.

* This text is an updated version of that which served as the basis for the discussions at the National Political Council on 11 June 2024.

  • 1

    Former Socialist Party presidents, François Mitterrand 1981-1995, François Hollande 2012-2017.

  • 2

    Leon Trotsky: Whither France? - 1934, on