For many people, the results of the European elections in France were a surprise. The past six months were filled with demonstrations of the “Yellow Vests”. However, the far-right Marine Le Pen won the European elections. How can we explain this?
Written by Juan P.
Crisis of the traditional parties
The big parties which for decades sustained the capitalist dominance and the EU project are in a deep crisis. They are those who are now part of the European People’s Party and of the social-democratic group in Parliament.
On the “right” of these traditional parties, Les Republicains in France has been turned into a fringe organization. On the “left” flank, the crisis of social-democracy, which is actually a liberal social force, is deeper still. The French Socialist Party is, since François Hollande’s presidency, a remnant. At the same time, there are important changes like Macron’s party (with 22,4% of the vote), who reunites the tactical votes of the bourgeoisie.
Le Pen channels the discontent in the elections
In the case of France, Rassemblement Nacional (RN, “National Rally”), Le Pen’s party, managed to win the largest share of the vote. The far-right RN appeared as an alternative against Macron. Though it cannot be said that it channelled the struggle of the Yellow Vests, whose dynamics and demands are diametrically opposed to its program, the harsh reality is that Le Pen’s party concentrated the “tactical vote” of the working class and popular sectors against Macron and the EU.
The parties of the European far-right are presented by the media as an anti-EU force, but this is incorrect. Their confrontation with the EU is more rhetoric than anything. None of them stand for splitting with the EU or the Euro. They have long since stopped putting up this poker face. They seek only a bigger margin for political manoeuvring.
However, the insistence of the main “left” forces in defending the EU (a social war machine in service of bankers and big capitalists and a vital support of governments) as a factor of stability and progress made whole a fraudulent discourse, allowing Le Pen to claim the flag of discontent.
Where is the Left?
The Left had no class alternative. The most important phenomenon was the fall of Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed”) party. In just two years this neo-reformist organization dropped from 7 million votes (20%) to the present 1,4 million (6,3%).
The main reason for this failure is the abandonment of any radicalism against the regime or the European Union. The electoral campaign had a hard time sounding different from the empty speeches of the remaining Left about “social Europe”, “climate justice” or “fiscal harmonization”. Besides, instead of raising the flag of the Yellow Vests, it limited itself to a rather timid support.
Of the organizations that call themselves Trotskyist in France, the NPA had no candidate and gave its support to Lutte Ouvrière (LO, “Worker’s Struggle”), whose candidature was a disaster. For LO, the EU is irrelevant and the problem is “capitalism”, as if the EU was apart from French capitalism and not, on the contrary, a pillar of its rule. LO called for an abstract social revolution, forgetting the concrete struggles, like, for example, the Yellow Vests, of which it tried to differentiate themselves all the time.
The conclusion that the NPA’s leadership takes from all of this is that “nobody can aim on representing by themselves a popular expression of the interests of the majority” and that it is necessary to compromise for a “political construction” to unite forces.
No one can say anything against the fundamental need for unity of action against the attacks of Macron and Le Pen. But if the elections in France have shown anything, it is the failure a Left who neither connected with the struggle and demands of the Yellow Vests, nor relied on the union rank-and-file and the unity between the Yellow Vests and the trade unions, nor presented a radical class program against the regime and the big French capital, a program which would necessariliy split with the EU and the euro.
Unity of action is necessary, but not at the cost of ceasing the construction an internationalist, revolutionary forcem particularly when all pressure goes toward building a new Union de Gauche (“Left Unity”) like the one that failed, now in a ecological-social-liberal version, pro EU and open to the Greens. This Union de Gauche would be ideal gift for the far-right and the RN.
Translated by Miki Sayoko