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Forum Post: liberte, egalite, fraternite!” sound familiar?

Posted 2 years ago on April 19, 2012, 10:08 a.m. EST by flip (6873)
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This year, the PCF decided not to stand in its own name, but to support the candidate preselected by the Left Front (Front de Gauche). This was Jean-Luc Melenchon, a long-time leader of left currents in the Socialist Party (PS).

Melenchon abandoned the PS after its 2008 congress rejected a left-wing motion demanding a break from neoliberal policies and reconnection with working-class aspirations.Melenchon told a 2500-strong meeting in Metz (where the FN won more than 20% of the vote in the 2010 regional poll): “Don’t yield to the party of the hatred that calls on you to divide yourself from others. Don’t allow yourself to be divided according to your religion or skin colour. There is only one rule that should define us with regard to others ?Melenchon told a 2500-strong meeting in Metz (where the FN won more than 20% of the vote in the 2010 regional poll): “Don’t yield to the party of the hatred that calls on you to divide yourself from others. Don’t allow yourself to be divided according to your religion or skin colour. There is only one rule that should define us with regard to others ?liberte, egalite, fraternite!”

On March 18, the 141st anniversary of the Paris Commune, came confirmation the Left Front campaign was biting. Organisers were expecting 20,000 to 30,000 to show up for a march and rally to “seize the Bastille” in Paris. Up to 120,000 took part.

Further mass rallies in Toulouse (50,000) and Marseille (100,000) have built on the success of Paris.

On March 18, the 141st anniversary of the Paris Commune, came confirmation the Left Front campaign was biting. Organisers were expecting 20,000 to 30,000 to show up for a march and rally to “seize the Bastille” in Paris. Up to 120,000 took part.

Further mass rallies in Toulouse (50,000) and Marseille (100,000) have built on the success of Paris.

Along with other disillusioned PS members, Melenchon formed the Parti de Gauche (Left Party), inspired in part by Germany’s Die Linke (the Left). The Left Party subsequently initiated the Left Front as an electoral alliance with the PCF and other smaller left forces.

Melenchon’s campaign has been the main novelty of the contest, the first round of which will take place on April 22.

As election day approaches, polls show support for Melenchon at between 14% and 17%, competing for third place with Marine Le Pen of the racist National Front (FN).

Incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy, of the Union for People’s Movement (UMP) and the PS’s Francois Hollande share the lead at between 26% and 30%.Over the past six months, backing for the Left Front candidate has tripled at the expense of all other left candidates.

Support both for Hollande and for Eva Joly of Ecology Europe-Greens (EELV) has fallen by up to 5%. Support for far-left candidates, LO's Nathalie Arthaud and Philippe Poutou of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), has stalled at 1% or less.

What explains this success?

At its core lies Melenchon’s outright rejection of neoliberalism and the call for a “citizen’s revolution” against the bankers and the ruling rich. Melenchon sees rising mass resistance to neoliberal austerity in France leading to the emergence of a “Sixth French Republic”, embodying economic and social justice, popular democracy and environmental sustainability.

The echoes of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez’s Movement for a Fifth Republic, the initial political form of the Bolivarian revolution, are not accidental. Melenchon, whose mother was Spanish, has a history of solidarity work with struggles in Latin America. The right-wing media deride him as “le petit Chavez” for his oratorical style.

The main Left Front proposals are an immediate return to the 35-hour working week, retirement at 60 on the full pension (at least 75% of final earnings), a 22% rise in the minimum wage to 1700 euros a month and a cap on maximum salaries. It also proposes making 800,000 casual jobs in the public sector permanent.

Welfare measures include 100% coverage of health costs, the creation of half a million pre-school places, an annual social housing target of 200,000 homes, a freeze on housing rents and a 10 billion euro expansion of investment in education and research.

The public sector would grow through re-nationalisation of the big energy companies and the creation of 11 new public services. These would cover areas such as social housing, savings and credit, health, training, information and culture, pharmaceuticals, transport and childhood services.

Comprehensive “ecological planning” would also be introduced.

There would be a veto on sackings in any industry making profits. Workers in factories marked down for closure or sale would be given favourable conditions for converting them into cooperatives.

The Left Front proposals would be funded by closure of tax havens, increased taxes on capital and the wealthy? including a 100% tax on earnings over 360,000 euros a year ? and restoring to the Bank of France the power to purchase state debt.

On foreign policy, the Left Front calls for withdrawal from NATO and a complete rethink of defence polices.The heart of Melenchon’s argument has been that an alternative policy to neoliberal austerity actually exists ? to make the rich and the bankers pay for their crisis. His meetings have combined an explanation of the feasibility of the Left Front program with caustic attacks on the “candidates of austerity”, and calls for resistance in the streets and workplaces.

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