With the fascist Le Pen winning a place in the the second round of the French election, Cameron Panting takes a look at how the Left should respond
Marine Le Pen will be facing Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election. I hope very much that Macron wins.
This is not due to any liking for Macron, but because I do not wish for a fascist to become the next President of France.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left candidate, overcame all the odds to seriously challenge for the second round. This shows that the idea that French society is simply sliding to the right is a complete misunderstanding. What's really happening is a crisis of the established order. Neither of the two established parties were in the top two, Macron managed to present himself as an outsider, and Mélenchon won the biggest vote for the far-left in decades.
Mélenchon has now said that he will not endorse Macron for the second round. There are cries from the media of betrayal, and a declaration that the far left is not anti-fascist, suggesting a link with the 1930s, where German Communists declared that there was no difference between social-democrats and fascists.
This is not the same situation, and not supporting Macron is not the same as saying that Le Pen is the same as Macron. We can oppose Le Pen, and also oppose the continuation of the established order and a ramping up of ‘liberalising’ reforms from Macron.
It is clear that the Left in France, building off the huge support that Mélenchon gained, should be in the streets opposing the fascists, building real resistance, and in the process, also helping Macron in the election.
But to jump in with the Macron campaign, would be to throw away the gains made over this period.
Mélenchon was the only candidate who had real answers to the systemic problems that exist in France and across the world. It is these problems, of unemployment, torn apart public services, the drive to war and rising inequality that open the door to the fascist right.
Unless the Left has its own platform in response to this threat, Macron’s likely presidency will only lead to a strengthening of the Right’s base. The polls may have shown that Macron was always the opponent most likely to beat Le Pen in the second round of the election, but he will be the most useful president for her to rail against and build support upon, following his victory.
A turbo-charged Blairite version of the calamitous Hollande presidency will cause further polarisation and decreased living standards. In a period of economic boom, politicians of a Blairite disposition can ride the wave of prosperity, let the rich get richer, and give out handouts to paper over the cracks in the system. In this current period of world crisis, this will not be possible; a Macron presidency will be a false hope of the tallest order.
The strength of the Mélenchon campaign shows that millions of French people aware of this. The task now is to build on that campaign and crush the fascist right in France at its root.
Cameron Panting was formerly National Organiser for Counterfire. He is active within the People's Assembly and Stop The War.
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