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Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing statements from various French left groups on the outcome of the May 7 French presidential election which saw centre-right banker Emmanuel Macron defeat the far-right candidate for the National Front, Marine Le Pen. These include statements by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from France Unbowed; Ensemble! (Together!); the French Communist Party (PCF); and Philippe Poutou, from the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA).
‘Don’t yield on anything! Our resistance can win the fight’ - Statement by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, spokesperson of France Unbowed
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, spokesperson of the France Unbowed movement, who came fourth in the first round of the French presidential election, issued this statement on May 7 after the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the second round. Translated by Dick Nichols for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
This evening brings to a close the Fifth Republic’s most pathetic presidency, which would have destroyed practically all confidence in itself.
Yet, once again, in spite of everything, through abstention, the informal vote and that for Mr. Macron, our country has massively rejected the extreme right as alien to the Republican identity of France. In this second round Mrs Le Pen comes in third, behind Mr Macron, abstention and the informal vote.
The new president has been elected. Courtesy and love for our democracy require that we take note of that unbegrudgingly and that we express to him our best wishes. May the sense of our homeland’s destiny be with you, Mr President. And may the thought of the impoverished, of those without rights, shelter or work obsess you. May France be better off on that score.
But here it is more useful to look to ourselves.
The program of the new presidential monarch is well known: it is war on the country’s social gains and irresponsibility towards the environment. But here we are not doomed.
The legislative elections must show that after a vote of rejection and fear the time has come for a positive choice: the choice of The Future Together [France Unbowed’s electoral platform]. I call on the 7 million people who have come together around the program of which I was the candidate to mobilise and to remain united, whether or not they voted for Mr. Macron. I call on all those who are ready to break with the past to join France Unbowed, which we have made the leading new mass movement in so many towns in our country.
Come together, people. Without spreading yourselves too thin, because you saw how you were eliminated from this second round by around 600,000 votes. Come together if you recognise yourself in the ecological and social humanism that is the need of our time and of which I have striven to be spokesperson.
People, don’t give way! Don’t yield on anything! This country and the ordinary people who inhabit it are not doomed to obey the power either of the rich or of those who are full of hate.
A new parliamentary majority can be built around us. The taste of joy is catching. At our call, on June 18, in the second round of the legislative elections, our resistance can win the fight. And I am going to be there alongside you with all my energy.
Long live the Republic!
Long live France!
The worst has been avoided – time for a Defiant Left! – Statement by Ensemble!
Ensemble! (full name in English Together! – Movement for a Left, Ecological and Solidarian Left), which is part of the Left Front and supported the presidential campaign of France Unbowed candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round, released this statement on May 7. Translate by Left Unity
Voters have rejected the immediate danger of the right-wing taking power and what it would have entailed: challenging fundamental freedoms, rolling-back democratic and social rights, persecuting foreigners, ‘preference nationale’ or putting the ‘French first’ in a bid to whip up racism …
Nearly 11 million votes went to Marine Le Pen, revealing a surge in support for their rotten ideas across society. We have to argue that the FN’s ideas are not ‘respectable’, fascists have always used despair when it takes hold in the population, exploiting it for their own ends.
We have to get to the root of the problem. Le Pen is making advances by conning people into thinking the FN cares about their lives! French socialist President Hollande’s policies over the last five years bear responsibility for people feeling left behind. It is essential to put an end to the neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies of successive governments during the last fifteen years. They have brought no social gains for the majority of people and have brought into question basic rights. By continuing unjust policies, Macron will make things worse and the threat of the FN will increase, if Macron is not fought and his policies rejected on a radical left and pro-environmental basis.
Don’t wait to take on Macron
The vote does not give Emmanuel Macron a mandate to implement his policies. He was elected ‘by default’, taking votes from all sections of society in a bid to stop Le Pen being elected, not giving support to the policies he wants to develop – he obtained less than a quarter of votes in the first round. He has no mandate to dismantle the welfare state, increase social security contributions, attack employee rights and change pension plans as he sees fit. Following the rejection of the traditional two parties of government, the French Socialist Party and the Conservative style Republicans, we have seen the rise of a real left with 20% of votes cast for the radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. We can be certain that Macron will face a strong social movement and will not be able to get away with his attacks without a major political crisis. Macron intends to develop his ultra-liberal policies and force them through by presidential decree over the summer. Mobilising people against Macron’s policies must begin now.
Uniting to form a political alternative in the French General Election
The next parliamentary elections will be decisive in mobilising the hope raised by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s success in the first round of the French Presidential election.
We need to elect genuine left representatives who will fight Macron’s policies and build an alternative. We have everything to play for. Macron must be prevented from obtaining a majority of deputies, drawn from the traditional parties of the right and the French Socialist Party, which will continue and worsen the policies of Hollande’s last five years in power.
For this reason, it is essential that the progressive forces who supported Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s candidacy stand in constituencies across the country and build on the success of the first round. It is necessary to unite left and environmental activists in choosing candidates and break from the social liberals. This will give sufficient force to opposing the policies of Macron and challenge both the extreme right and other conservative forces.
The time to build is now!
Re-founding a left alternative is a priority. The forces exist for a broad popular movement. They need to regroup and go beyond from the dynamics of the Jean-Luc Mélenchon campaign and bring together the hopes and aspirations of a genuine left movement. This is a crucial challenge for the left.
‘Let us realise the promise of a new left in France’ - Statement by French Communist Party
The French Communist Party (PCF), part of the Left Front and supported the presidential campaign of Melenchon, released this statement on May 7. Original translation by the PCF and edited for clarity by Dick Nichols for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
This evening, the candidate from the National Front was roundly defeated. What a relief! 65 % of French voters refused to elect a head of state who promotes ideas of hatred and division, a project that is racist and xenophobic, and public policy that is violently discriminatory, economically liberal and warlike.
As Communists, we are proud to have worked with resolve to defeat the far right, for we know that the National Front project continues to threaten the Republic and its unity. But tonight, we are not in the mood to celebrate. Our country is living through dark days. This second round, once again, sounds a serious alarm for all citizens who feel strongly about protecting our democracy and preserving equality. Marine Le Pen obtained a score of 35 %, which is 14 % more than her first-round score.
This is the result of the “normalisation” of extreme right ideas; we are more determined than ever to fight them. This is also the result of decades of complacent political alternation to the detriment of the public interest, and of successive administrations’ betrayal and abandonment of the people.
Tonight, we share the deep-seated anger of the millions of people who felt ambushed by this second round. An ambush organised by the worn-out, perverse workings of the Fifth Republic. In the future, we do not want to have to be obliged to vote by default to defeat the far right. We never want to see the far right in such a position again.
For this reason, we must build up to the victory of a genuine political change that will free France from the clutches of financial markets, that will put “humans first”, that will attack the domination of finance by granting new powers on all levels, opening the path to a new society of well-being, solidarity, justice, environmental preservation, peace and equality.
It is not Emmanuel Macron, the candidate chosen by the world of finance and elected president this night, who will follow this path of progressive policies. He wants to commodify everything in society. His election win is a fragile one. Millions of voters who cast votes for Macron were above all seeking to block Marine Le Pen. In the first round, many voted for Macron in the hope of avoiding a run-off between Fillon and Le Pen. Only a minority of citizens actually support his program, which promises serious social and democratic regression.
What remains to be done is the construction of an alternative for the social, environmental and democratic transformation of public policy and the formation of a new majority to carry it forward. As of tomorrow, and throughout the five-year presidential mandate, Communists will be mobilised to push ahead, along with all forces of the left that are willing. The announced destruction of the French Labour Code will reduce workers’ rights; we will fight for job security and training to eliminate unemployment and social precarity, creating new powers over businesses and the banks in the face of the financial markets. Against the attack on pensions and the privatisation of Social Security that have been proposed in Macron’s program through the elimination of social contributions, we will set up a plan to defend and develop Social Security.
Macron has called for a 60-billion euro cut in public spending and the elimination of 120,000 civil service positions; we offer a plan for revitalising local public services in all fields. Executive orders are used by authoritarians; we will fight for democratic rule. We will be present in all battles against the anti-social program Macron is promoting, against the ultra-reactionary projects of the right and the far right.
It is in this spirit that we approach the legislative elections to be held on June 11 and 18. The French Communist Party is fully engaged. No parliamentary majority has yet been formed by any party. In five weeks, our people will have a new opportunity to decide on our present and our future.
On the strength of the votes of millions of citizens for Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of the presidential elections on 23 April, and with all the forces that supported his candidacy and those that may join us, we can go far towards electing a National Assembly that will truly represent us and constitute a new majority for action. United, we can win in many districts. Without unity, our electoral gains will be limited and leave room for more MPs from Macron’s “En Marche!” movement, the right and the far right. We have a major shared responsibility to the voters of the left and from the environmental movement. These voters are eager for a united front.
To achieve this, we need a broad national agreement, fair and representative, under a single banner that unites all: France Unbowed, Communist Party, Ensemble! and the Left Front.
This corresponds to the hopes and aspirations of the majority of voters who cast their ballots for Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 23 April. The Communist Party is ready to enter into such an agreement. In all cases, united we can act to block the National Front’s path in many districts where there is a danger that the party might take firm root.
We can choose the candidate who will maximise our chances of winning in each voting district. This evening, we are once again sending a solemn appeal to the political leaders of France Unbowed: it is not too late to reach such a national agreement. We are prepared, if our ambition is not shared, to reach more limited agreements. We call for dialogue across the nation in the coming hours. Our party has a goal for these legislative elections: to bring the people into the Assembly.
The Communist – Left Front candidates whom we support are from the France of working people, from the public and private sectors, from all trades and professions, union leaders, committed citizens from all walks of life and backgrounds, young candidates bringing a breath of fresh air to politics as well as women and men of experience who have served in elected office locally. Alongside these supporters, on May 11 at 7 p.m., Pierre Laurent will launch our national campaign during a major rally at the Japy gymnasium in Paris. Let us remain strong and united as of today, to continue the combat against the far right and push back isolationist ideas.
Let us remain strong and united as of now, to engage in resistance and advance projects that offer an alternative to the dismantling of social protection and the exacerbation of inequalities that the new president plans to implement. Let us realise the promise of a new left in France, a promise born at the ballot box on April 23.
Macron as president: the capitalist offensive will sharpen. Build the fightback! - Statement by Philippe Poutou, New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA).
This May 7 statement was made by Philippe Poutou for the NPA after the result of voting in the second round of the French presidential elections was announced. Translation by International Viewpoint.
Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front has not been elected, and we are pleased. For us, the FN will never be a party like the others. Behind some demagogic social demands, its programme remains the destruction of democratic rights, challenging all the rights of the trade union movement and other social movements. Its programme is division of exploited people, aimed at reinforcing discrimination against people of immigrant origin, a racist hate programme aimed at sparing the people really responsible for poverty and unemployment. Today, the candidate of the FN has been pushed aside and that is good.
Macron the banker is heir to Hollandeism and fully embraces the policy of his predecessor. As a minister, he inspired laws of social regression such as the one that bears his name or the labor law twhich was massively opposed in the streets a year ago. Beyond that, Macron intends to amplify the liberal counter-revolution and will therefore pursue without a break a policy of austerity for the popular layers, in the name of freedom of enterprise, rigour and budget balance ... His programme ? To put an end to the 35 hours, to break Social Security, to reduce the number of civil servants, to go even further in the breakage of the labour code ... This policy is precisely the one that prepares the ground for the Front National, stepping up the destruction of our social gains.
We must therefore prepare to fight new battles, to unite to prepare the resistance against the steamroller of a Macron who declares that he wants to govern by decree to impose his antisocial programme. A period of struggle is before us, and we must organize the “all together”, all-out mobilizations, to reverse the balance of power, build a front to defend in unity our social and democratic rights.
Already, trade union and social movement activists have begun to prepare the response. For us, “taking our affairs in hand” means building struggles, demonstrations, and strikes. The demonstration tomorrow [Monday] at 2 pm in Place de la République [Paris] and in a number of cities is part of it, because social conquests have never been the gift of a government but won by the workers and the youth in action.
To prepare for this confrontation, we need a political force to represent us, to organize our social camp facing the bosses and owners. A fighting party, anchored in daily struggles, that is not afraid of attacking capitalist property, who defends the need to break with national and European institutions. A feminist, ecologist, internationalist party for a revolutionary transformation of society. It’s urgent.