Mass Opposition to Le Pen

The Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire is a socialist party who are in the forefront of the struggle against Le Pen in France. Below they outline their analysis of the first round of the French Presidential elections and the struggle against Le Pen.

Rouge cover

Rouge is the newspaper of the LCR


1. For the first time since 1974, the LCR presented a candidature at the presidential election. 4.3% of electors, 1,200,000 people, voted for Olivier Besancenot. Despite the difficulties of the first round of these elections, the balance sheet of the LCR's campaign is that it expresses promising changes which prepare the ground for the emergence of an alternative politics to that practiced by the parties of the governmental left.

2. The results of the first round of the presidential elections constitute a political earthquake. It is a trauma for millions of people for whom Le Pen recalls the worst times in the history of our country, those of Vichy and fascism. Le Pen's populism cannot conceal his real politics in the service of the rich and powerful. He approves of privatization, anti-social legislation, givebacks to the employers and abusive procedures for the dismissal of employees. The new breakthrough of the Front National constitutes a defeat for the entire workers' and democratic movement. After Italy, Portugal and Denmark, it is France's turn. In all these countries, the consequences of the neoliberal policies of left governments have led to the breakthrough of the neoliberal and far right.

3. Le Pen's score results first from the campaign waged by Chirac and the right around insecurity, accepted by Lionel Jospin and taken up also by Chevènement. But more substantially, the rejection of the policies followed by successive governments for 20 years leads today to an unprecedented crisis of political representation. Abstention, which increased by nearly 6% between the presidential election of 1995 and that of 2002, is the most obvious sign of it. Finally, this first round of the presidential election confirms that the excessive personalization of the election of the president, in the framework of the institutions of the 5th Republic, opens the road to the worst kind of demagogue.

4. Despite presenting himself as a democrat, Chirac is above all somebody whose moral integrity is tainted by scandal. More than that, having received less than 20% of votes in the 1st round, it is an electorally discredited president who will lead the country. Chirac is in fact the representative of a neoliberal right inspired directly by the programme of the MEDEF [the French employers' federation]. His neoliberal counter-reforms are intended to worsen the living and working conditions of millions of wage earners. The choice of a campaign centred on insecurity indicates new attacks against democratic rights. The election of the candidate of the right will lead to a government bent on head on confrontation with the world of labour.

5. But the political earthquake that the country has undergone is also the result of the policies of the government of the 'plural left'. Since 1997, this government has adapted itself to neoliberalism and has surrendered to the diktats of the financial markets. It has now been sanctioned by the popular classes who no longer feel represented by this governmental left. The main consequence of these policies has been the stinging defeat of the Socialist Party. It is also one of the explanations for the fall of the PCF, which has seen a brutal acceleration of its historic decline. The nationalist project of Chevènement has also been rejected. As to the Greens, if they have resisted the pressure around 'security', they have confirmed their support for the policies of the governmental left.

6. At the same time, these elections have registered a change in the relationship of forces on the left, with the far left scoring more than 11%. These elections bring into broad daylight the existence in this country of a governmental left which has accepted the rules of capitalist globalization, a left which has been sanctioned, and a popular left of millions of youth and wage earners who reject neoliberal policies. In the political earthquake the country has undergone we must now refound hope on the left, breaking with the record of the plural left government. The question of a new anti-capitalist political force, of a new party of workers and youth, is sharply posed. First, by building on the forces of renewal which were expressed in the candidatures of Olivier Besancenot and Arlette Laguiller. Lutte Ouvrière and the LCR have in this sense particular responsibilities. The LCR has already proposed to LO a discussion around the new political situation and the tasks of revolutionaries. Hope is also represented by the youth who are massively resisting capitalist globalization and fascism, as well as by trade union and community activists and those in the social movements. It is ultimately the activists, Communists, ecologists, Socialists who are asking questions and finding the way to an alternative politics.

7. Immediately, the first demonstrations of youth reflect the resistance of society to the rise of the far right. The first priority now is to build a demonstration of force against Le Pen and the bosses' politics on May 1st, in every town in the country. We must bar the road to Le Pen, the worst enemy of the workers, in the street as in the elections. The LCR will mobilize so that Le Pen scores the lowest possible vote on Sunday May 5. We understand those electors who will vote for Chirac to oppose Le Pen, but we do not think that Chirac is a rampart against the new rise of the far right. On the contrary, he is among those responsible for it, and there is no doubt that following his election he will take measures against wage earners, youth and immigrants. It is a time for a mobilization against the far right and the bosses, a unitary mobilization of the workers' movement and youth around social demands which put an end to unemployment and inequality and mobilizations for the defence of the immigrants without documents.

April 22, 2002

Results of the 2002 French Presidential election, first round.

Statement by Olivier Besancenot as the exit polls were first announced

Tonight there has been a political earthquake in this country. It is a victory for the worst enemies of the wage earners and of youth.

The Front National is a current that represents a direct continuity with Vichy, fascism and the Nazi crimes of the Second World War. Tonight I share the sadness of millions of people in the face of this advance of the far right, in particular the millions of immigrants who live in our country. This is the result of the campaign waged by Chirac and the right - and accepted by Jospin - on the question of 'insecurity'. It is also the result of the policies of the governing 'plural left' which has dramatically cut itself off from the popular classes.

At the same time, these elections indicate a change in the relationship of forces on the left, with more than 10% for the far left, LO and the LCR. I would like to thank the 4.8% of electors who voted for my candidature, the candidature of somebody who shares their concerns and their hopes. The multiplicity of candidates on the left is not responsible for the rise of the far right; it is rather the policies followed by successive governments for some years that are responsible.

Now we have to reestablish hope on the left. First by relying on the forces of renewal which have expressed themselves, in the candidatures of Lutte Ouvriere and the LCR, organizations which have special responsibilities in this new situation. Hope lies also in the youth who are massively resisting capitalist globalization and fascism. I ask all the electors of the left, socialists, Communists, ecologists, but also the community and trade union activists, to organize a popular resistance to the rise of the far right, all together against fascism and the employers.

This information is taken from the website of the LCR, translation by the International Socialist Group, British section of the Fourth International.

This article argues for a new party in France which would unite the left around an anti-capitalist programme. The article was originally published in the French Marxist journal Carré Rouge, in 1999.