After winning 22% of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI) party is starting talks with the Socialist Party (PS). This turn towards a discredited employers’ party, which has always denied in practice the cynical references to socialism that it made in its electoral propaganda, is a warning: Mélenchon does not seek to mobilize his voters, but to push them to the right and at a dead end.
Last Tuesday, LFI and the PS met at LFI headquarters to try to reach an agreement on the French legislative elections from June 12 to 19. The National Council of the PS had opportunely adopted a resolution calling for the unity of all “left” forces, before announcing on Friday the temporary suspension of talks with LFI. As for LFI, it is negotiating with the PS while calling for the construction of a “People’s Union” with Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV), a party that has openly supported President Emmanuel Macron, but also the Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF). and the Pabloite New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA).
LFI’s decision to seek an alliance with the PS again exposes the unprincipled nature of Mélenchon’s maneuvers. With the approach of the second round of the presidential election of April 24 between Macron and the neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen, the Socialist Equality Party (PSE), the French section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), campaigned for workers and youth to boycott a fraudulent election between these two far-right candidates. The PES explained that only an irreconcilable rejection of both candidates would prepare workers for the struggles to come against the next president.
Mélenchon has already declared himself ready, before the second round of April 24, to occupy the post of Prime Minister under Macron or Le Pen. “I ask the French people to elect me Prime Minister” by electing “an LFI majority” in the legislative elections, he told BFM-TV on April 19. Asked whether he would serve either under Macron or the neo-fascist Le Pen, Mélenchon replied that this question was of “secondary” importance.
LFI is turning its back on millions of its working class and youth voters to instead maneuver with the PS, which has responded by suspending negotiations with LFI and denouncing it as a threat to the European Union.
Former PS president François Hollande, so hated after five years in power that he did not dare run for a second term in 2017, criticized the LFI-PS alliance project. “The PS must be faithful to its own history,” he said, criticizing the LFI program: “It calls into question the very history of socialism.”
Hollande indicated that any PS-LFI alliance would be based on a repudiation of the LFI social reform promises made in his program. “If the programs are designed to be put into practice,” Hollande said, “would that mean that the next government… would disobey the European treaties? A next government, if it were to be formed, if it had a majority, would it leave NATO? Would he no longer help the Ukrainians by giving them military equipment?
Former PS Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who retired from public life after being knocked out of the second round of the 2002 presidential election by neo-fascist candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, has taken a more conciliatory stance , addressing The Parisian. Jospin said that Mélenchon’s “duty is to build an alliance”, but that he is “not sure that certain themes and the style of LFI will build a majority on the left”. Nevertheless, Jospin proposed that the PS find “an electoral agreement with the whole left”.
Jospin underlined his concern over the 2022 electoral collapse of the PS and the Gaullists, the two tendencies that dominated official French politics in the period following the French general strike of May 1968. PS candidate Anne Hidalgo and Valérie Pécresse, the candidate of the Gaullist party Les Républicains (LR), were both eliminated with less than 5% of the vote.
“Emmanuel Macron has built a heterogeneous conglomerate behind him without a clear identity. He did everything to organize a new confrontation with the extreme right, which he considered easier to beat,” said Jospin, stressing his fear of the “disintegration of our political system”. He added: “The abstention is considerable and the extreme right has further developed.The two parties which, on the right and on the left, controlled the democratic debate in the past and offered political alternatives to the country, have been marginalized.
Jospin laid out the cynical calculations of a layer of the PS which aims to use the LFI presidential vote to give itself a new face and stabilize an unpopular political establishment. Indeed, PS party secretary Olivier Faure made similar arguments. Criticized Tuesday evening at a national PS committee by a PS minority critical of allying with LFI, Faure said such an alliance was the only way to prevent the PS from being absorbed into Macron’s party, The Republic on the March (LRM).
Faure said: “If you think that the PS is dead, that there is nothing to do, that you are no longer on the left, then leave. Join LRM. Otherwise, stay and fight with us. It will transform us. »
Faure’s arguments are lies from a party that for four decades has imposed austerity and war on workers. It aims to make voters forget, among other things, Hollande’s reactionary presidency, the anti-worker decrees of his El Khomri law, his anti-democratic state of emergency and his plunder of society for the benefit of the banks. The real question posed by the LFI-PS alliance project is not what the reactionary PS is trying to do, but rather: why is LFI negotiating with it?
The PSE explained that LFI is objectively in a position of strength. Having conquered the working-class neighborhoods of the big cities, he could mobilize masses of workers in strikes against an unpopular president who had been elected only because he faced an even more unpopular neo-fascist rival; against soaring prices which are ruining the workers; and against NATO’s war on Russia. Such strikes could not only cripple the French economy, but also trigger an international working class struggle against capitalism and imperialist war.
But LFI, a petty bourgeois party based on layers of academics and union bureaucrats, is hostile to launching a struggle against imperialism. He rejects the Trotskyist perspective advanced by the PSE, preferring its nationalist conception of a “citizen revolution” in a new “era of the people”, which implies a parliamentary agreement with the reactionary PS. Instead of mobilizing its voters against war and austerity, LFI urges them to take the cynical promises of the PS at face value.
Manuel Bompard, LFI’s representative to the PS, welcomed the “positive” exchanges with PS spokesperson Pierre Jouvet. “We didn’t feel like we were talking with the same PS as two-three years ago,” Bompard said, adding that there are “no problems that arise in discussions that seem insurmountable “with the PS, in particular “on pensions or the European question”. ”
Bompard specifies that the PS aims to make the French people forget the policy it led in power: “It clearly has a desire to present the appearance of a break with the PS of François Hollande; they had no trouble promising to repeal their El Khomri law, to build a new Sixth Republic, to block the rise in prices, which are crucial issues for us.
LFI MP Mathilde Panot, speaking to Sud Radio, stressed that such alliances were at the heart of LFI’s strategy in the legislative elections: “We can use these legislative elections which, by the way, are also a means of overthrowing the presidential monarchy in which we live, to make Jean-Luc Mélenchon Prime Minister, not only to put Mélenchon in the Matignon palace, but to really put our program into action.
The conception promoted by LFI that it can put into practice a progressive program under a Macron or Le Pen presidency is another political lie. The argument, which lulls workers into the danger of war and far-right dictatorship, aims above all to bring together all the current or former allies of the former Union of the Left PS-PCF formed in 1972, to block a movement of workers and young people on the left.
Jospin and Mélenchon have long sought to unify Stalinist and social democratic forces and their political satellites to build capitalist governments and attack workers.
Both men began their political careers in the Internationalist Communist Organization (OCI) because he broke with the CIQI, whose section is now the PSE. After splitting the ICFI and repudiating Trotskyism in 1971, the OCI backed the Union of the Left. Both Jospin and Mélenchon were members of the OCI and the PS, eventually working closely with PS President François Mitterrand. Jospin became prime minister and Mélenchon minister in the PS-led “plural left” government from 1997 to 2002, whose unpopularity led to Jospin being eliminated in the 2002 presidential election.
A clear and unequivocal warning must be launched on the “Popular Union” that Mélenchon seeks to build with the PS. It is not a revolutionary, socialist or labor movement, but an unprincipled petty-bourgeois bloc aimed at stabilizing the Macron government. For workers and young people, the urgent task is to break with the petty-bourgeois pseudo-left parties like LFI, and to build the PES as the Trotskyist alternative to the push of the bourgeoisie towards war, the dictatorship of extreme right and austerity.