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The far right is defeated in France

Now implement the program of the New Popular Front

Tempest re-runs the statement of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA)/New Anti-capitalist Party on the results of Sunday's national elections.

Given the importance (and surprise) of the French election results on Sunday, Tempest re-runs here the statement, in translation and with minor edits, of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA)/New Anti-capitalist Party. The NPA politically supported, and ran candidates as part of, the Nouveau Front populaire (NFP)/ New Popular Front. This electoral alliance of left parties shocked mainstream political forecasters by winning the most seats to the French parliament as part of a broad effort to stop the far right from taking power.

The last two days have seen quite useful analyses in both the Left and capitalist press, analyzing the breakdown of political support within the NFP, the growth of the far right, and where this leaves the attempt to cobble together a French government in the absence of a majority coalition.

These elections took place in a context in which the authoritarian far right internationally, including in the U.S., are on the ascendancy. They have positioned themselves, however cynically, as the political alternative to the growing crises of late neo-liberal capitalism. As such their defeat in France should be celebrated.

But there are also significant issues to debate, including the meaning of these elections, and the lessons to be drawn both internationally and in France. There is also the contradictory history of the 1930’s Popular Front which arose to stop the growth of facism in France, but which failed. Ian Birchall, a revolutionary socialist based in Britain, and a historian of the French Left, has written an excellent analysis for RS21, entitled “The Popular Front then and now- France and the elections.

Of especial importance for a U.S. audience are the attempts by sections of the Left and labor movement to use the victory of the NFP to rally people behind a strategy of political support for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. However attractive the comparison of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen—both of whose fathers, tellingly, were avid admirers of Adolph Hitler—any comparison between the NFP and the Democratic Party, the balance of forces at work in each, not to mention the U.S. and French electoral system, and resultantly, the strategic challenges facing the Left in the U.S. in relation to national elections risk being simplistic or worse. And this is a strategic question, not about what an individual may do in the voting booth, swing state or not. The U.S. Left should not be be actively campaigning for, and throwing our precious organizing resources towards, support for the leader of the imperial hegemon, not coincidentally a champion of Palestinian genocide. Rallying support for Joe Biden (or whichever successor the Democratic Party may or may not be able to thrust upon us) is an error and a concession to impotence. The Left needs to build a viable alternative and reject the choice between the declining imperial status quo or twenty-first century fascism. Building such an alternative should be guiding all of our thinking and our choices such that the U.S. Left and social movements might once again stand as an independent political force, as we have just witnessed in France.

The main lesson from the first results of this second round is the setback suffered by the National Rally (“RN”) and its allies. The defeat of the hundreds of fascist, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and ultra-reactionary candidates that the RN had presented is a huge relief for racialized people, women, LGBTI+ people and workers. This victory of the united Left halts the momentum of the far right, which nevertheless won around fifty seats. The defeat of the far right of Bardella and Le Pen was the fruit of the popular mobilization that was established thanks to the united spirit brought by the creation of the New Popular Front.

This is already a victory for the New Popular Front, which was made possible by the gathering of the entire left, political, union and associative, but also and above all by the grassroots mobilization of large sectors of the working classes, in particular racialized people and young people, who have everywhere committed themselves to blocking the RN. This mobilization allows the arrival in the National Assembly of a very large number of deputies of the New Popular Front (including a relative majority for LFI [La France Insoumise – Eds.) elected on the basis of a program that breaks not only with Macronism in the service of the ultra-rich, but also with the liberal left of the Hollande five-year term, which had made the policy of the right.

The RN’s defeat should not make us forget that it significantly increased the number of its deputies and remains a threat to racialized people, social rights and democratic freedoms. Nor should it obscure that of the Macronists, who lost a third of their seats. If they still have so many deputies, they owe it only to left-wing voters, who largely turned to them in the second round to block the RN. This blockade vote does not change the electoral results in any way: in the European and legislative elections, Macron and Attal were clearly disavowed and therefore no longer have any legitimacy to claim to lead the country. Macron has no other option today than to submit to the will of the people and allow a left-wing government to implement the program of the New Popular Front, which now has the legitimacy of the ballot box. Otherwise, he must go.

This disavowal is also that of the 5th Republic and its authoritarian and undemocratic institutions. The popular mobilization, marked by an unprecedented participation for decades, also raises the need to move towards a Constituent Assembly, for a true democracy of the majority.

From now on, the commitments made must be kept, and all the emergency measures provided for in the New Popular Front program must be implemented, starting with the repeal of the pension counter-reform and that of unemployment insurance. This can only be done if the popular dynamic is maintained and expanded. This requires building grassroots New Popular Front collectives, open to all, which can help amplify the movement and build mobilizations and strikes in the coming months. We must continue to stand together. No national unity government can meet the aspirations expressed in the ballot boxes today. We must remain united to act, debate and outline a perspective of emancipation that will sustainably push back the far right, around a Left of combat and rupture, a Left that can radically transform this society!

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet; modified by Tempest.

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