All People subcategories:
International figures keywords:
France: Left Front vote shows potential for new workers' party
In the first round of the French presidential elections, held on 22 April, François Hollande (28.6% vote) of the social democratic Socialist Party (PS) narrowly headed incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy (27.1%) of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Both candidates face a run-off second ballot on 6 May in which Hollande is predicted to beat the much despised Sarkozy.
Most commentators emphasised the success of the far-right, xenophobic National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen - who gained 17.9%, a high waterline for the FN. However, the most positive result, from a socialist standpoint, was the rapid rise in working class support for the Left Front (FDG) candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The FDG secured 11.1% (nearly four million votes) on a left reformist platform of opposing the austerity cuts to pay for the capitalists' economic crisis.
As expected, the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), whose popularity and membership have fallen dramatically because of its unclear programme and the false methods of its leadership, took a disappointing 1.15% (411,000 votes).
Mélenchon's virtual overnight success came about because his skilful rhetoric tapped into a mood of burning anger among the working class against the rich elite and the capitalist policies pursued by the establishment parties.
Some of this mood was undoubtedly channelled by Le Pen, who capitalised both on people's anger and uncertainties over the deepening euro crisis and the recent murders in Toulouse by a right-wing Islamist terrorist.
Nearly 80% voted in the first round. Le Pen has called for her supporters to abstain rather than support Sarkozy in the run-off, while Mélenchon has called for a vote for Hollande.
Despite the limitations of the Left Front programme (which essentially argues for reforming capitalist institutions instead of meaningful socialist change), Mélenchon's successes - the tens of thousands who attended his rallies and four million votes - shows the potential for renewing the debate for building a new mass party to the left of the PS that can challenge capitalism.
See socialistworld.net for more comment:
www.socialistworld.net/index.php/5722 Presidential elections shows deep anger at Sarkozy's rule
www.socialistworld.net/index.php/5594 Is the NPA still a step towards a new fighting party for workers and youth?
Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777
Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206
Regional Socialist Party organisers:
Eastern: 079 8202 1969
East Mids: 077 3797 8057
London: 07748 534 891
North East: 078 4114 4890
North West 079 5437 6096
South West: 077 5979 6478
Southern: 078 3368 1910
Wales: 079 3539 1947
West Mids: 024 7655 5620
Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041