Macron’s Pyrrhic French parliamentary election victory

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State of Emergency in France: 2,200 Police Raids, 3 Closed Mosques, Hundreds of Muslims Detained

4 December 2015

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced Wednesday that authorities had carried out more than 2,200 raids since a state of emergency was declared following the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people. Under the state of emergency, French police can raid any home without judicial oversight. In addition, police have held 263 people for questioning – nearly all have been detained. Another 330 people are under house arrest, and three mosques have also been shut down. The vast majority of those targeted in the raids have been Muslim. We speak with Yasser Louati, spokesperson and head of the International Relations Desk for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Mass abstention overshadows Macron victory in French legislative elections

12 June 2017

A historic level of abstention dominated the first round of the French legislative elections yesterday, which gave newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron’s party The Republic On the March (LREM) a large majority. But fully 51.2 percent of voters abstained—the first time since the end of World War II that only a minority of registered voters participated in the legislative elections.

Workers and youth overwhelmingly stayed away from the polls. Although 70 percent of retirees voted in the elections, approximately 30 percent of voters aged under thirty went to vote. Opinion polls carried out in the days before the elections showed that 56 percent of the so-called “popular categories,” comprising manual workers and employees, planned to abstain.

This is a resoundingly negative judgment of the French population on the media campaign to promote Macron’s counter-revolutionary program proposing to create a permanent state of emergency, slashing attacks on labor protections, and a return to the draft.

It appears that the legislative elections—whose purpose was to determine, as Le Monde wrote, whether Macron will have “unchecked powers” to impose his program—will produce an overwhelming LREM majority in the Assembly. However, even if the electoral mechanisms grant Macron an unchallenged hold over the legislature, this majority—elected by only a minority of the population—will have no legitimacy to impose his program.

LREM obtained 32 percent of the vote, against 21 percent for the right-wing The Republicans (LR), 13.9 percent for the neo-fascist National Front, 10.9 percent for the Unsubmissive France (UF) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 13.3 percent for the Socialist Party (PS), and 3.3 percent for the … French Communist Party (PCF). The candidates of Lutte ouvrière (LO, Workers Struggle) and the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) together obtained only 0.08 percent of the vote.

Nonetheless, given the electoral set-up—one needs to obtain a number of votes greater than 12.5 percent of the registered voters to advance to the second round, which is carried simply by whoever gets the most votes—LREM can hope to obtain a lopsided majority in the Assembly.

Though it only obtained the votes of 16 percent of registered voters, LREM may have, according to initial projections based on yesterday’s vote, a crushing majority of 400 to 450 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. LR would have 70 to 110 seats, the PS 20 to 30, a UF-PCF coalition 8 to 18, and the FN 7 to 12.

Initial analyses of LREM’s vote point to its very heterogeneous and therefore fragile character. In Paris, LREM’s vague promises of reform and modernization allowed it to carry both the very bourgeois 16th district, as well as the working-class neighborhoods of the 19th district.

Numerous politicians and media commentators openly worried that the abstention meant that Macron’s lack of democratic legitimacy will have serious political consequences when he sets out to enforce his agenda on the population.

“Our democracy cannot allow itself to be sick,” declared PS First Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who added: “It is neither healthy nor desirable for a president who obtained only 24 percent of the vote on the first round and won the second round purely on the basis of popular rejection of the National Front, to have a monopoly of democratic representation.”

Last night, France Info commented: “It’s a black mark, even a very black mark: the future National Assembly will give an image that is only a political caricature of France. And this is not a sign of good health in a democracy.”

The Macron government was reduced to appealing to voters to participate in greater numbers in the second round of the legislative elections this coming Sunday. “You were less numerous to vote” than in the presidential elections, declared Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who added that he felt obliged to “insist on the necessity that voters go vote next Sunday.”

These elections are marked by a crying contradiction. There is broad opposition to the program of austerity, military mobilization, and police-state rule that Macron has developed in collaboration with Berlin and the European Union (EU). However, LREM—founded last year by Macron, then the economy minister in the despised PS government of then-President François Hollande—has been able to establish itself over a few months as France’s main bourgeois party, winning over large factions of the PS and LR.

The PS was the leading party since shortly after its foundation in 1971. It won a 331-seat majority in the Assembly after the 2012 elections, but after Hollande’s presidency, it is now set to be reduced to an impotent rump. It is paying the price for having carried out unpopular policies of imperialist war and social austerity every time it took power. Large sections of its personnel are seeking to recycle themselves politically by joining LREM.

Many other high-ranking PS and Green legislators have been eliminated, however: Cambadélis, PS presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, former PS Interior Minister Matthias Fekl, former PS Justice Minister Elizabeth Guigou, and former Green Party leader Cécile Duflot. …

Macron will, nonetheless, face explosive opposition in the working class, under conditions where mass abstention has deprived the Assembly of any semblance of legitimacy to impose his reactionary program.

IN A SHARP contrast to last week’s general election in the UK which saw a massive turnout of workers and young people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in order to deal a massive blow to the Tories and against austerity, the parliamentary elections in France over the weekend produced the lowest turnout since the end of the second world war: here.

The record 57 percent abstention in the second round of the French legislative elections constitutes the initial verdict of the French people on the political program announced by Emmanuel Macron since his election as president on May 7. His anti-democratic policy of imposing a permanent state of emergency, dictating austerity by decree and militarizing the country elicits only hostility or indifference among a large majority of the population: here.

8 thoughts on “Macron’s Pyrrhic French parliamentary election victory

  1. Tuesday 13th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    Vote attracts lowest turnout of Fifth Republic

    FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron looks set for a large majority in the national assembly despite his coalition netting just a third of the votes in the poorly attended first round of polling on Sunday.

    The second round will be held in a week’s time and pollsters say that Mr Macron’s Republic on the Move party and its Democratic Movement allies could amass more than 400 of the 577 parliamentary seats.

    But turnout was shockingly low at under 49 per cent, the lowest since the foundation of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

    That showed there is no majority support for Mr Macron’s planned handouts to the rich and assaults on workers’ rights, welfare benefits and pensions, charged leftwinger Jean-Luc Melenchon.

    Mr Macron’s pro-business programme will be a further savage follow-up to the anti-worker Macron and El-Khomri laws passed by the previous Socialist Party government, of which Mr Macron was a member. Both have been fiercely opposed on the streets by workers and their trade unions.

    Mr Melenchon, who got nearly 20 per cent in the first round of the presidential election in April, said the results revealed an “unstable and illusory political situation.”

    His France Unbowed party took 11 per cent of the popular vote and he urged people to vote tactically in constituencies where the party failed to reach the second round.

    In France, the top two candidates in the first round progress to a second, along with anyone who polled more than 12.5 per cent.

    Communist leader Pierre Laurent said that if the predictions of a large neoliberal majority hold true, with Mr Macron’s MPs likely to be supported by the conservative Republicans, millions of French citizens faced a “extremely difficult situation.”

    He said the majority abstention in the first round was “the first failure” of Mr Macron, with “fanatical presidentialism” devaluing “parliamentary legitimacy.”

    But Mr Laurent admitted that division, “particularly on the left,” had worsened the results.

    “The left is severely weakened and even eliminated in many constituencies. We deplore it, despite the efforts we have made to remedy it.”

    He said it was urgent to mobilise for the second round “against the candidates of Macron, the Republicans and the National Front.”

    The Republicans received 16 per cent of the vote and the fascist National Front 13 per cent.


  2. Wednesday 14th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    TONY BURKE looks at the unions’ response to the new president

    NEW French President Emmanuel Macron has warned unions he intends to “reform” France’s labour code before the end of this summer.

    Mr Macron said during his presidential campaign that he planned to fast-track legislation through use of “executive decrees,” but unions have urged the government not to rush through the reforms handing France more neoliberal labour laws which will reduce France’s strong workers’ rights and protection.

    Workers in France are protected under a powerful 3,000-page labour code and although only about 7 per cent of workers are union members, unions play a significant role in employment relations and they are normally able to mobilise mass demonstrations and strikes which are widely supported by workers.

    But Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says they intend to pass the reforms during the long summer holidays when factories shut down and many workers are away.

    Mr Macron has been accused of using the break to undermine the unions’ ability to organise against the legislation.

    Strikes and a rebellion in parliament were two factors that stopped Francois Hollande’s government’s attempts to introduce similar reforms.

    Mr Macron was a minister in that government between 2014 and 2016 before he quit to launch his presidential bid.

    In a document released last week, the government broadly stuck to measures contained in Mr Macron’s campaign manifesto including the capping of compensation for unfair dismissal cases.

    Two of the biggest union federations appeared willing to engage in talks with the government. “I don’t think the unions will want to make a snap judgement since we only just got this letter from the government,” Laurent Berger of the moderate CFDT union said on French TV.

    And the smaller FO union said the reform plan contained both positive and negative points.

    But the more powerful left-wing CGT union, which represents many transport and manufacturing workers and takes the lead in mobilisation, said it disagreed with the reforms and called on workers to protest over the coming days and weeks.

    CGT leader Philippe Martinez said after meeting Mr Macron that he was looking for a “loyal” negotiation between the government and the unions, signalling that the president’s reforms might not be as quick as he would like.

    A key issue is pensions: Mr Macron has said he wants to merge 37 pension systems into one, including the workers’ pensions at the state-owned EDF utility and SNCF railway companies.

    • Tony Burke is Unite’s assistant general secretary and Campaign For Trade Union Freedom chairman.


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