Macron’s Pyrrhic French parliamentary election victory

This video says about itself:

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.

French state of emergency abused, Amnesty says

This video says about itself:

French unions join demos against cop brutality

21 February 2017

The case of French police allegedly raping a 22-year-old black man continues to spark major protests in France. The demonstrations that show no sign of abating have in turn led to more violence and arrests. Our correspondent Ramin Mazaheri has more from the latest demonstrations in the French capital.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 2 June 2017


FRENCH state powers designed to combat terrorism have been repeatedly misused to curb peaceful protest, a new report from Amnesty International has found.

A right not a threat: Disproportionate restrictions on demonstrations under the State of Emergency in France reveals that hundreds of unjustified measures restricting freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly have been issued under the guise of countering terrorism.

‘Emergency laws intended to protect the French people from the threat of terrorism are instead being used to restrict their rights to protest peacefully,’ said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

‘Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labour rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests,’ he added.

Amnesty says: ‘Following the horrific Paris attacks on 13 November 2015, France’s state of emergency, introduced a day later, has been renewed five times normalising a range of intrusive measures. These include powers to ban demonstrations on vague grounds and prevent individuals attending protests. Last week, President Macron indicated that he will ask parliament to extend it for a sixth time.

‘The state of emergency allows prefects to ban any gathering as a precautionary measure on very broad and undefined grounds of “threat to public order”. These powers to restrict the right to freedom of peaceful assembly have frequently been used disproportionately.

‘Between November 2015 and 5 May 2017, authorities used emergency powers to issue 155 decrees prohibiting public assemblies, in addition to banning dozens of protests using ordinary French law. They also imposed 639 measures preventing specific individuals participating in public assemblies.

‘Of these, 574 were targeted at those protesting against proposed labour law reforms. Moreover, according to media reports, authorities imposed dozens of similar measures to prevent people from participating in protests after the second round of the presidential elections on 7 May.’ One labour law protester told Amnesty International: ‘You get the impression that they use any means at their disposal to attack those who are the most active in the movement.’

The Amnesty report states: ‘Charles, a young student living in Paris, was subject to an order prohibiting him from attending two protests against the labour law reforms on 17 May and 14 June in Paris. The ban was based on his arrest on 17 March in the context of a previous protest; he was subsequently released without charge.’

He explained to Amnesty International the chilling effect of the measures imposed: ‘I wanted to protest against the reform of labour laws but after my time in pre-charge detention I didn’t go to another demonstration until June, because I wasn’t prepared to demonstrate and then get arrested and beaten up.

‘After 17 May, every time there was a demonstration, I wondered whether the police would come to my house to see if I was there. They had accused me of being one of the violent demonstrators and my mother had started to have some doubts. I felt like I had been treated like a terrorist, like someone dangerous.

‘At first I was isolated, I didn’t know anyone else who had been banned from demonstrating. Then I realised that other people had been targeted too. I started to think that they wanted to intimidate us so we wouldn’t go to the demonstrations.’

Amnesty notes: ‘These restrictions breach the presumption under international law that a demonstration should be assumed to be peaceful unless authorities can show otherwise. Protests are being seen as a potential threat rather than a fundamental right. In defiance of the restrictions under the state of emergency, many have continued to protest.

‘However, those who braved the restrictions have frequently been met with unnecessary or excessive force by the security forces. Batons, rubber bullets and tear gas have been used against peaceful protesters who did not appear to threaten public order. Whilst some of those involved in these public assemblies did engage in acts of violence, hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters suffered injuries at the hands of police.

‘The Street Medics, an informal movement of first-aid workers, estimated that in Paris alone, around 1,000 protesters were injured by police during protests against the labour law reforms. Amnesty International has seen video evidence of four police officers kicking and beating Paco, a 16-year-old student, with batons before arresting him.’

Two witnesses told Amnesty International that Paco was not engaging in violence when he was attacked by the police. The report section ‘Excessive use of force’ states: ‘On 28 April 2016, Jean-François, a 20-year-old student of geography at the University of Rennes II, attended a public assembly organised in Rennes against the labour law reforms. When the official march ended, he joined a group of protesters who headed towards the historic city centre.

‘Protesters reached Place de la République at about 1.30pm; they could not walk on any further as police were blocking all the access points to the city centre. Clashes ensued between police and protesters. Jean-François left the intersection where he was standing, between Quai Chateaubriand and Rue Jaurès, when police started charging protesters and crossed the bridge connecting Quai Chateaubriand with Quai Emile Zola.’

He told Amnesty International: ‘Once I reached the other side of the bridge, I saw the CRS charge towards the people on the bridge. There was a squad of CRS on the other side, 30 or 40 metres away. I was standing behind a bench. I hadn’t seen that they were pointing the weapon at me. When I was hit, I realised it was an LBD that had been fired, I lost a lot of blood, the street medics took care of me. I was taken to hospital where I underwent two operations, the first lasting five hours and then a shorter one a few days later. I spent five days in hospital’.

Jean-François lost his left eye. He told Amnesty International that the forensic doctor had certified that the injury had been caused by a rubber ball projectile fired with a launcher LBD40. The Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation shortly afterwards, to be carried out by the IGPN.

Jean-François told Amnesty International: ‘I am very angry. Before that I tended to trust the police. Some of the police were hit and I don’t think that is right. But to me it was inconceivable that that could happen, that I could be shot. Since 2007, 29 people have lost an eye due to police violence, 28 from the firing of a flash ball or an LBD, if I am not mistaken. I’m not interested in the person who shot me being put in jail. I want the state to recognise the mistake’.

Amnesty states: ‘In an open letter, the Prefect of Ille-et-Vilaine sought to justify the policing of the public assembly on 28 April. He stated that the use of force was necessary to counter violent protesters who were trying to reach the historic city centre.

‘However, law enforcement officials used kinetic impact projectiles to target a person who was apparently not using violence or posing a threat to anyone. Moreover, the projectile hit Jean-Francois at head height, indicating that the weapon was aimed not at the lower part of the body, as required by domestic guidelines on the use of these weapons (see Section 3.2) and the officer therefore failed to take into account the possible harm associated with the use of that weapon.’

Amnesty’s Marco Perolini said: ‘By drastically lowering the bar for restricting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, France’s state of emergency has resulted in the egregious misuse of what were designed to be exceptional measures to counter terrorism. People peacefully exercising their right to assembly have been swept up in a crude anti-terrorism net.

‘In the run-up to the election, Emmanuel Macron promised to protect the right to protest in France. Now he is President, he must turn his words into action. With the battle lines already being drawn between the new president and the unions on labour law reform, President Macron must stop the misuse of anti-terrorism powers to restrict peaceful protest and end France’s dangerous and dizzying spiral towards a permanent state of emergency.