France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Movement for the 6th Republic
The first of a three-part video (other parts below) features the address of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, former spokesperson for the French Left Party and initiator of the Movement for a Sixth Republic, at the 2014 year's Humanity Fair, which is hosted every year by the daily newspaper L'Humanité, of the French Communist Party.
[Note: To improve the resolution of the subtitles, press play, then click on the small "cog" in the right-hand bottom corner and change quality to 240p or higher. You may need to restart the video from the beginning. It is best watched in full-screen view (click on the square on the far right-hand bottom corner).]
Mélenchon discusses how to build a movement against austerity that goes beyond the traditional left, an important issue in a country where the racist National Front is leading in the polls. Also appearing is Hamma Mammami, leader of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers and the candidate of the Popular Front in 2014's presidential election. At the end there is a short interview with Jérôme Kerviel, a "rogue trader" who cost the Société Générale bank €4.9 billion, but who maintains that his superiors knew about and condoned his activities. Mélenchon and the Parti de Gauche (Left party) have been active in building solidarity with Kerviel.
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September 30, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A new movement has been launched in France by ex-president of the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) and 2012 presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon along with 50 public figures. The movement calls for the founding of a Sixth Republic with a new constitution, which establishes greater “individual, ecological, and social rights” by way of a constituent assembly process. Launched just over a month ago, it has already accumulated more than 38,000 signatures and has a growing social network presence.
This movement has been hotly contested on the left [http://www.medelu.org/Au-Bresil-le-MST-fait-campagne], yet the strategy behind the movement is to go to beyond the left itself. The idea is to build a movement of the people, seeking to activate the citizens who feel disaffected with the political system in its entirety and are not convinced by the established left. The abstention rate in the May European election was over 57%.
The idea has resonance both with the approach of the new party Podemos in Spain (Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been invited to Podemos’s founding "Citizens’ Assembly" next month), as well as constituent assembly movements in Latin America (mentioned at the end of Mélenchon’s blog post, below).
With France’s economy stagnating and the Hollande-Valls government continuing on its austerity program, the extreme-right party the National Front has begun to take the lead in the polls for the first time. The movement for the 6th Republic is an attempt to take the initiative back to the left and engage the broadest possible layers in a participatory process that will lead to an “insurrection” at the ballot box in the 2017 presidential elections.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Movement for the 6th Republic
By Jean-Luc Mélenchon
September 28, 2014 -- The launch of our movement for the 6th Republic is underway. It’s something that constructs itself. In order for that to happen, its base must be of those who understand the stakes involved. The heart of the movement is that popular sovereinty must be reconquered from within a society which is governed by finance and power concentrated in the hands of very few.
At the moment this movement is a movement of signatories. Tomorrow it will be one of the people themselves. And this is why our objective of 100,000 signatures is fixed as an initial goal for the the power it gives us to act at this stage.
Since the form of what we undertake is totally new, we are feeling our way forward. But the rhythm of its advance seems to me very good. We will soon pass 40,000 signatures. I do not believe I am exaggarating if I say this is a great success. I am now seeing that many of the signatories are themselves beginning to circulate the information and recruit in turn new signatories.
A call from public figures [see below] has been published. The diversity of the professions represented in this call is encouraging. And above all it is a great helping hand for lending credibility to our idea. It demonstrates another France than that of the official political personnel.
And this France is involved in the most political idea of all: redefining the rights of the people and of the institutions that come with them. Such a call gives us standing in the most diverse of arenas that are not those of usual political action ... [Mélenchon refers to Miss France Sonia Rolland’s public support for the movement].
This is a very important aspect of our action. The movement should not be reserved for the regulars, even if the support of the latter is very important for the construction of a large unity. There will soon be other lists of this type, and notably a new list of personalities. I don’t believe that we are reproducing the method of a text amended and signed by way of a compromise between all those who take responsibility for it. At base it is more simple and more just that each, if they wish, give their own motivations for signing it.
The mini-text proposed for signing appears to me a simple and clear contract between us, without closing off or reducing the motivations and analyses that have led each of us to the conclusion that we need to revise from top to bottom the rules of play of our country.
With these texts, we can thus have useful arguments around motivation which each will sift through according to their concerns.
I also know that numerous friends are already taking this cause into their neighbourhoods. From door to door! But I note that there have been “constituant workshops” that formed themselves and that seem to be very promising. I think that this would be very complicated to lead, but it is a formidable way for everyone to learn together and set down roots for the ideas. Evidently I have no need to approve or disapprove of this.
The movement is constructed by and in actions from the most basic up to the most complex, and the initiatives belong to those who get them going. It is upon each of us to never forget that we have neither a model nor a set of orders and thus that everything that is being done is necessarily experimental.
Nevertheless, in order to light our path forward more clearly, I’m putting here for you a link to the site “Memory of Struggles”, which is led moreoever by two of our signatories, Bernard Cassen and Christophe Ventura. The article documented evokes the mobilisation in Brazil for the convocation of a constituant assembly. It is a matter of an activist campaign on the street with a citizens’ vote called “citizens’ referendum”.
The Left Party [Parti de Gauche] has the fortune of having a committee at the site led by French expatriats as we have in a number of other Latin American countries and around the world. Our comrades are very involved in this mobilisation. Thus I can follow what goes on. In fact, the truth is that our friends there are run off their feet and have little time for writing. But we have news as we go along.
Here I will copy an extract of some correspondence we have received from Brazil:
Hello all, the results of the referendum were announced last night: 7,754,436 Brazilians, that is 5.44% of the electorate have voted in the referendum. Among those 97.05% said “yes” to a new constituent assembly. The result is sizeable since, for example, in order to propose a law from popular iniative, the minimum signatures required is only 1% of the electorate. The mobilisation, which lasted many months, has had the participation of 2000 popular committees, 450 social organisations, 100,000 militants, hearing back from around 40,000 ballot boxes across the whole country. The results will be presented to the representative powers at Brasilia on October 14-15, that is to say 10 days after the first round of presidential elections. During the entire period, the campaign was the object of a strong media blackout. Even though important personalities have come out publicly in favour of the referendum, the principal media outlets in the country have hardly said a word about it, publishing on the contrary a couple editorials calling the campaign a “Bolshevik coup d’état”. It is a matter now of stepping up the pressure during the presidential election campaign and continuing the work at the base in order to inform and raise awareness among the population on the subject and keep the mobilisation alive.
Let these lines help you to find the energy that we all are in need of. Since we, here, we have passed through a dark moment of presidential monarchy.
Declaration for the Sixth Republic
Signed by 50 public figures in France
September 24, 2014
It is time to act, since at present, we have come to the point where the President of the Republic offers without compensation billions of Euros of public funds to MEDEF [the main employers association in France]. Where the Prime Minister is a part of the most minority faction of the parliamentary majority, which shamelessly declares its allegiance to the president of the French business council. During this time the country languishes in unemployment; poverty and destitution grow; the ecological challenges and the imperatives of general humanity are either denied or absurdly under-valued. Apart from this, France is also engaged in wars and international undertakings for which the parliament is never called upon. Whatever happens, whatever the form of protest across the country, be it electoral, social, parliamentary, those in power take no notice. The result of this is a massive abstention amongst our compatriots who are in fact the worst affected by the unjust policies of the government. The political institutions are so discredited and the domain of civic participation so constrained that only the extreme right prospers in the situation. Their progress is a symptom. But it is the cause that we must treat.
How can a power have recourse to a permanent coup de force with impunity? [This refers to the multiple cabinet reshuffles that the President has undertaken to stifle dissent]. How can a candidate promise white and go about doing black once elected? The impunity confirms the fraud. It causes people to become disgusted with politics. The cause of all this is the the oligarchical form of regime; the Constitution of the 5th Republic makes all of this possible. So far removed from the real sovereinty of the people, the Republic is dead. It is this that needs to be changed, top to bottom. And it is the people themselves who should do it by a constituent assembly, not by a committee of experts.
We are therefore taking the initiative to make this call. We believe ourselves capable of renewal within the spirit and the objective that has already brought us all together, as diverse as we may come. Moreover, it is our need to find a positive issue in the crisis which our country endures because of its out-of-control regime. The transformation of institutions will be that of society itself.
We thus propose to constitute a committee of initiative, as large as possible, which gathers as much personalities from the intellectual and cultural worlds as political and union activists. This committee will launch a call to constitute a national movement for the 6th Republic. It will decide collectively on the ways to lead it and and to open it to all those who wish to participate in it. We do not conceive of it as a cartel of organisations but as a movement where each person counts for his or herself. This project should thus be given impetus and lead by those who will join together to bring it into being. It is for this reason that we will propose to gather as quickly as possible those who respond in favour so that they themselves decide freely and without conditions what should be done from this point on, in the form that seems to them most fitting.
In the hope of your response we summarise the question in conclusion: for the 6th Republic, are you in?
I am signing for the Sixth Republic
Change the constitution to give power to the citizens!
Do not wait for orders!
The initiators of this movement are those who, in this moment, decide to act together!
Our movement begins as a social network. The “web” is the largest public place in our country.
Here, the place of the people!
I demand the election of a constituent assembly which will found, with the people, the 6th Republic. A republic cleared of the presidential monarchy and founding new individual, ecological and social rights which our country needs.
Christophe Alévêque, comedian – Paul Ariès, journalist, essayist – Ariane Ascaride, actor – Marc Belissa, historian – Judith Bernard, actor, dramaturge, journalist – Boris Bilia, economist, statistician – Laurent Binet, writer – Yannick Bosc, historian – Michel Butel, writer – Dominique Cabrera, director – Bernard Cassen, honorary president of Attac, general secretary of Memory of Struggles – Yves Charnet, writer – Magyd Cherfi, singer – Jean-Louis Comolli, film-maker – Pierre Crétois, philosopher – Gerald Dahan, comedian – Jean-Numa Ducange, historian – Cédric Durand, economist – Annie Ernaux, writer – Pascale Fautrier, writer – Yves Fravega, dramaturge – Jean Gadrey, economist – Alain Garrigou, professeur of political sciences – Florence Gauthier, historian – Jacques Généreux, economist – Laurence Giavarini, teacher-researcher, member of Save the University – Charlotte Girard, senior lecturer in consitutional law – Jacques Girault, historian – Laurent Grisel, writer – Robert Guédiguian, director – Janette Habel, academic, political commentator – Liêm Hoang Ngoc, economist – Razmig Keucheyan, sociologist – Mathilde Larrère, historian – Yvan Le Bolloch, actor, musician – Frédéric Lebaron, sociologist – Manuel Marches, musician – Roger Martelli, historian – Claude Mazauric, historian – Simone Mazauric, philosopher – Daniel Mermet, journalist – Jean Milon, environmental economist – Gérard Mordillat, writer, film-maker – Emmanuel Poilane, director of the Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, France Libertés – Claude Poliak, sociologist at CNRS – Didier Porte, comedian and columnist – Ridan, artist – Sophie de la Rochefoucauld, actor – Sonia Rolland, actor – Stéphanie Roza, historian – Anita Rozenholc, journalist – Binetou Sal, music producer – Christian Salmon, writer – Clément Sénéchal, author, media specialist – Mylène Stambouli, lawyer – Laurent de Sutter, philosopher, director of collections at PUF – Sophie Tissier, media personality – Catherine Tricot, editor in chief at Regards – Nathalie Triniac, chief-editor – Christophe Ventura, researcher in international relations.