Against the fascist threat

Giorgos Mitralias
Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

When, just after the announcement of the results of the European elections, French President Macron surprised everyone by deciding to dissolve the Parliament and to call general elections for June 30, it was obvious that he aspired to repeat, once again, the successful blackmail thanks to which he had won his two presidential elections: to find himself alone against Marine Le Pen and her far-right party, thus forcing left-wing voters to vote for him in the absence of a left-wing alternative of their own. Moreover, everything pointed to the success of his blackmail manoeuvre: the fragmented left and its mutually loathsome parties could not reconcile and ally themselves in the three weeks between them and the first round of the elections, and even less in the six days (!) they would have had to submit their candidacies.

Unfortunately for Mr Macron, things turned out very differently. Under the heavy pressure exerted on the leaders of these left-wing parties not only by their party base but also by a very large part of the population who suddenly realised that the fascist far right was literally one step away from power, these parties met, discussed and agreed in just 3-4 days not only to join forces in what they called the New Popular Front (Nouveau Front Populaire) but also to adopt a quite bold “breakaway program” with the neoliberal policies of the last 40 years!

As far as Mr Macron is concerned, the conclusion is therefore clear and can be summed up in the saying… the biter bitten”. And this is because his ‘high-ranking’ economic and other local and foreign friends are now accusing him of ‘irresponsibility’ which is pushing France ‘into chaos’ and ‘to the brink of collapse’. And because the French population is now abandoning him once and for all, leaving the electoral battlefield and beyond to be dominated by the extreme right and the united left, without any of the well-known “moderate” “centre-right” and “centre-left” safeguards that allow capital to rule by muddying the waters of the class confrontation…

The fact is that the despair and panic that prevailed immediately after the announcement of the results of the European elections on the evening of June 9th, was followed the next day by hope. And two days later, by optimism. This was because, hour by hour, the prospect of the left-wing parties coming together not only to block the path to power of the far-right National Rally (Rassemblement Nationale-RN), but also to take over the government of the country by winning the elections, was growing stronger by the hour! Of course, the time available to the New Popular Front to make its message and programme known is minimal, not even two weeks. However, everyone, friends and foes alike, admits what the first polls are beginning to confirm: the New People’s Front of the united French left is developing a dynamic that already puts it within touching distance of Marine Le Pen’s party. In other words, anything is possible, even a victory for the New Popular Front, even though the far right is still the favourite in the forthcoming French elections.

Indeed, it is indicative of this dynamic that is developing these days in the bowels of French society that, as everything seems to indicate, it even manages to overcome the shocks caused to the New Popular Front (NPF) by the ‘aberrations’ of some of its leaders. Such as those caused by the well-known authoritarianism and egotism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the historical leader of its largest component, the France Insoumise-LFI (France Unbowed) party, who has chosen this crucial moment to purge his party of historical members who dared to publicly… disagree with him. And what is even worse is that Mélenchon has done so in double violation of the agreement of the NPF’s partners, which expressly stipulates that all outgoing MPs and councillors are his candidates, while anyone with a court conviction cannot be his candidate.

By imposing the candidacy of his favourite outgoing MP Quatennens, who was convicted of domestic violence, and by depriving his outgoing MPs “challengers” of the possibility of being re-elected, Mélenchon has given the enemies of the New People’s Front and the media the opportunity to denounce his “undemocratic authoritarianism” at the very moment when he is denouncing others as undermining democracy. However, the angry pressure from the grassroots was such that the “favoured” outgoing MP was finally forced to withdraw his candidacy, and the “cleared” outgoing MPs are finally standing for election with the support of all the other components of the New Popular Front and a large part of the voters and members of the Insoumis…

The conclusion is that France is experiencing the most critical days in its post-war history as it is now clear that in the second round of its forthcoming elections, in the vast majority of contests, only two factions will face each other: on the one hand, the fascist far-right of Le Pen’s National Rally, which has its origins in Petain’s quisling regime and the OAS murderers of “French Algeria”. And on the other hand, the New Popular Front, which, as its name suggests, is inspired by the precedent of the Popular Front created in 1934, under pressure from the bases of the Socialist and Communist parties against the – even then intense – threat of the fascist gangs.

And which won the elections in 1936, to implement not only its programme, which was rather timid, but also the much more radical demands of the millions of workers who took part in the largest strikes and factory occupations in French history until May 1968, which led to the realisation, for the first time in world history, of “paid holidays”, the 40-hour week, unemployment benefit, nationalisations of important industrial sectors, etc. which were not included in the programme of the Popular Front! So, as in 1936, everything is possible today in the outcome of the all-out class conflict which begins, but does not end, with the June 30 elections. The New Popular Front, which brings together in its ranks all the nuances of the French left, from the LFI to the Socialist Party (PS), and from the Communists (PCF) and the Ecologistes (Les Ecologistes) to the extreme leftists of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), is now fighting a battle that goes beyond the borders of France.

Excerpted: ‘The New Popular Front Against the Fascist Threat in France’.