Bit by bit, while the majority of the working class, both the young and the old people among the traditional “people of the left”, increasingly refuse to vote, the FN has made inroads among new layers of workers and the worse-off.
In the first place it gains from the crisis of the UMP [the mainstream right-wing party].
The FN’s political machine is the heir of the [World War 2] collaborators and the OAS [far-right terrorists who resisted Algerian independence], but labelling its actual or potential voters “fascists “ or “Nazis”,or “dickheads” just helps the FN.
The current strategy of Marine Le Pen is not at all today to build a French version of the [Nazis’] storm troopers)... She rides the tide from election to election, helped also by “anti-fascist” jeremiads, and the FN is now hailed by the media as the “first party of France”, although her actual vote was lower than her father got on 21 April 2002 [in the first round of that year’s presidential election].
The real earthquake in France is not the FN’s Euro-election score as such. It is the crisis of the regime that the election reveals and promotes. That crisis has two centres...
- What one commentator has called the “decline of the President”
- And the crisis of the UMP [damaged by repeated internal rows and scandals].
When he responded to the local government election results [in March, when the SP and its allies lost 160 large local government districts, and the FN gained eight] by promising a “fighting government”, against its own social base, [president] François Hollande doubtless hoped for something of a “Valls effect” such as polls on the popularity and image of the Prime Minister seemed to indicate. [Hollande sacked the prime minister and replaced him by Manuel Valls, former interior minister, well-known as anti-immigrant, and relatively well rated in opinion polls]. There has been no such effect: the crisis deepens.
In the same period, the Left Front [Front de Gauche, an alliance of the French Communist Party (CP), the Parti de Gauche (PG, a splinter from the SP, and some smaller groups] has been weakened:
• Firstly because of the CP’s support for the government of the PCF leadership - the common lists [for the local government elections] with [Anne] Hidalgo [successful SP candidate for mayor of Paris] in the first round [French elections take place in two rounds, and it is common for left groups to rally to better-placed left candidates on the second round, but less so to form a coalition with them for the first round], or the vote for the Peillon law [redefining state-school autonomy and state-school teachers’ conditions], were not acts of unity, but acts of division of the social movement in favor of the government.
• And because [PG leader] Jean-Luc Mélenchon and PG, nervously combining verbal batoning on their left and overtures to the EELV [Greens], and insulting the Breton proletarians in struggle for their jobs [a movement in Brittany, mainly in October and November 2013, combined workers’ protests against job cuts and small bosses’ protests against government plans for an “eco-tax”: Mélenchon denounced it outright], have not advocated a policy of unity for an alternative majority. They constantly waver between aggressive verbal denunciation of the “Socialists” and opportunist politicking...
If we really want to respond to FN and the right, then we must take action against the government’s cuts policies. The “antifascist” jeremiads, which go as far as a possible call by the leadership of the CGT [biggest trade-union confederation] for a day of action on 26 June 26 against ... the result of the Euro-elections, will only widen the communication gap. It is as if they actually want to the greatest possible number of workers to vote FN.
Fascism is not upon us, but poverty, and lack of a future for our children, are. The [government’s] “pact of responsibility” is the policy that allows the FN to grow.
• Article abridged from the website of the French group “Le Militant”