French Elections: A Critical Vote for Melechon/La France Insoumise, and ONLY for Insoumise

No Endorsement of NUPES ‘Left’ Popular Front

No Vote to treacherous SP, CP or petit-bourgeois Greens

By Ian Donovan

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

In the upcoming two rounds of Legislative Elections, class-conscious workers should critically vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) Party on 12th and 17th June.

But we should NOT advocate votes for his various bloc partners in this election, not for the Greens, who have nothing to do with the working-class movement, who are a petit-bourgeois excrescence on politics who actively support anti-Russian sanctions.

NOT for the treacherous Socialist Party whose President Hollande was deeply involved in imperialist attempts at pro-imperialist ‘regime change’ in Syria, and massive austerity against French workers.

NOT for the Communist Party who support anti-Russian sanctions today. They call for confiscating the wealth of Russian ‘oligarchs’ and giving it to Ukrainian ‘refugees’, a racist, Russophobic position, attacking Macron from the right. They would never demand the confiscation of the wealth of the French bourgeoisie, on the contrary they have repeatedly betrayed the working class with popular front alliances with capitalist parties.

These forces have rotten policies, and their working-class support is marginal. Only Mélenchon inspires class-based illusions among the mass of workers today. It is Mélenchon, and Insoumise alone, who need to be put to the test!

Sanctions, as was frequently pointed out in the case of Iraq, are themselves an act of war. In this period, this is a crucial dividing line. A party that supports sanctions against Russia, an act of war, in the absence of any other good reason for giving it electoral support, cannot be the recipient of even critical support from genuinely class-conscious workers, socialists and communists.

In the first round of the Presidential Elections, the Greens, as a minor petit bourgeois party, hardly set the world on fire achieving 4.63% of the vote. More to the point, they did not give expression to any class sentiment on behalf of working-class people, as their entire political profile is middle class. To call for votes for them would be a betrayal of class independence. That Mélenchon has brought these feeble petty-bourgeois radicals on board his own campaign is a sign of his own reformist weakness and the danger that he could repeat the betrayals of the Socialist Party if given the chance. But he has a new party which needs to be tested to prove that before the working class.

The treachery of the Socialist Party, under former president Francois Hollande, and the discredit that has given rise to, derived from its steep austerity program from 2012 to 2017, whose attacks rivalled those of the Tories in Britain at more or less the same time, albeit at an earlier stage.

For a party like the French SP, whose voters generally support it because it claims to stand up for the interests of workers and the poor, this record was disastrous. Its aftereffects were that the SP fell from winning close to 29% on the first round of the Presidential Election in 2012, and then 51.6% in the run-off with Sarkozy, to being eliminated with only 1.75% on the first round of the 2022 Presidential Election. That is a just reward for a party dominated by a pro-capitalist labour bureaucracy that decisively betrays its own working-class base.  Mélenchon’s bringing this pathetic rump of a party on board his campaign is a bad sign of his own left social-democratic politics, which can lead to similar results if not transcended.

The French Communist Party has undergone a long-term decline precisely because of its perennial Popular Frontism, its compulsion to enter blocs with bourgeois forces, and its accelerating reformism and repeated betrayals of the French working class, particularly in the great strikes of 1936, 1968 and also 1995. After each such event its response was always to seek to form another Popular Front, not to fight independently as a party to lead the working class itself. This was inextricably linked to the fact that it always saw itself as seeking power through parliamentary means in any case.

Given its earlier connection with the USSR (often unpopular with backward sections of the working class), it was inevitably outflanked by other reformists who never had such connections. And it was discredited and demoralised by the collapse of the USSR. So now Mélenchon, not the PCF, has become the repository of leftist workers’ hopes in France, mainly because of his working alongside the Gilet Jaunes militants from 2018 and thus making his France Insoumise effectively the political expression of this spontaneous working-class revolt.

It is this that we are giving critical support to by urging a vote for Mélenchon and La France Insoumise, but not his bloc partners. No support to NUPES. Mélenchon’s wobbling away from the more critical attitude he had to imperialism in Ukraine, and his support for sanctions now, is a sign of opportunist retreat. But what we are supporting is the leftist impulse from below that pushed Mélenchon to within a whisker of knocking out Marine Le Pen in the first round in April and opening up a new perspective for class struggle in France.

Beware of NUPES candidates if you don’t know who they are! Check before you vote. Vote only for Insoumise candidates. Put Mélenchon to a real test before the working class – force him to act alone!

5 thoughts on “French Elections: A Critical Vote for Melechon/La France Insoumise, and ONLY for Insoumise

  1. It is not possible to vote only by the Insoumis. The lists are common under the name NUPES.

    If the rare militants know who is who, the vast majority of voters do not.

    The stated aim of this turn to the right by Mélenchon is to block Macron’s policies, which are widely hated. It is a tactical manoeuvre but also a turn to the right to avoid, in their minds, a disintegration of the electoral capital gained, as well as to counter Macron, who has terrible plans against the workers of this country.

    The critique of the NUPES has been undertaken within the UnionPopulaire (UP, a grouping composed of the FI, the POI and other small organisations as well as individuals) by very few militants and Revolution, the IMT branch in France.

    The vote on the 12th, even if it placed many of the NUPES candidates in the run-off, did not mean a significant increase in votes. Thus, abstentionists did not become more active, on the contrary, and the votes gained on the right (PC, PS, Greens) only compensated for the votes lost “thanks” to the inclusion of these “left” parties, which are very much decried by the left electorate.

    In addition, the combined right-wing and far-right vote is far greater than that of the NUPES. Although part of the RN electorate may vote NUPES, the majority will either abstain or vote right.

    The possibility of Mélenchon becoming Prime Minister is very remote, if not impossible, because instead of having radicalised his discourse and thus won over part of the abstentionists and the RN vote (those who are called “angry but not fascists”), he has “won over” the votes of the “caviar left”.

    The militants are very mobilised to get the abstentionists to vote (Macron and his press are hiding the election behind the war) but it is not won.

    The fight for the organisation of the UP, to give impetus to a clearly left-wing line, is the task ahead.

    On the next 19 June, we can only vote NUPES and distinguishing between the candidates is a leftist watchword, impossible to implement, there is not the militant strength to do so. The political consciousness of NUPES is still of the Podemos type or similar.

    So, we have to move forward with NUPES against Macron and work on the constitution of a left pole inside this group, but especially inside the Popular Union (which by the way brings the great majority of militants to the campaign).

    A slogan such as you propose is a shot in the dark, which does not take into account the reality on the ground. It is understandable because you do not know it, but “theoretical” generalities do not replace the concrete analysis of the concrete reality.

    The criticism of the “contribution” of the parties of the “rotten left” is already being felt, but the road is long. We must also take into account the impasse of social-democratic reformism, the hopes raised by Mélenchon (who, by the way, has a horrible position on the imperialist aggression in Ukraine).

    This election is only a moment in a process of radicalisation of society, as everywhere else, and the next step will be the struggles in the streets, because the crisis of capitalism and the war leave no other option.

    It would therefore be necessary to understand the dynamics of the events and not to propose slogans whose only result would be to isolate themselves from a mass which, new to politics, but who can learn quickly, would see such a slogan as objective aid to Macron.

    Let’s go together with the UP, while criticizing the most right-wing aspects, but with manner, a step forward, understandable for the mass of militants. I don’t see any other possible way. Leftism, leftists have done such damage everywhere that we have to think carefully before putting forward slogans.

  2. It is possible with a little research to find out which NUPES candidates belong to which party. Its also a political necessity to draw a line against popular fronts.

    Because in such fronts the right, bourgeois wing exercises a veto over the real programme of all parts of the bloc. We have to find a way to draw a line through it and it is no hardship to do the necessary research to inform our propaganda.

    The purpose of this is not to be popular but to draw a line against bourgeois influence on the workers party and counter the inevitable betrayals that such a bloc necessarily entails. Our job is not to be popular, but to solidarise with every forward thrust of the masses while warning of dangers, like of inevitable betrayals that flow from popular fronts.

  3. NUPES is just an electoral pact.
    In my modest opinion, it’s life or dead will depend on next sunday’s results.
    It is a turn to the right of a left socialdemocrat option, mainly conducted by a political figure, Mélenchon.
    I do not know if it is a Popular Front. The Union Populaire with Mélenchon as candidate has taken 22% of the presidential vote (minus roughly 50 abstention that means 11% of the total voters).
    To avoid that in the short time after election of the Parliament, Mélenchon out of course because his age and his will, decided to maintain for the Left the electoral capital gained (it could surely be much less without him) calling the others “left” parties: PC, PS and Greens who have taken roughly 8% of the presidential vote (4% of total voters) to for a “United Left”, a much desired wish of the masses.

    It was a electoral manouver and also a salvation hand to the sinking other parties.

    Then we have a UP with a popular support an a significative part of the naturalized workers (immigrés) wich is a sort of left Podemos or something of the kind, thePC who even in a state of decomposition cannot be taken as a bourgeois party, the PS very much by his militants a petit bourgeois-middle class party with remnants of working class, and the Greens totally petit-bourgeois.

    But, the motor, the dynamics, the candidat to Prime Minister, is the UP. Then the lead of this electoral, quite oportunistic pact, is the the leftist part of this groupement.

    The bourgeois press and the bourgeois parties have not douted a minute the “danger” what this pact represents if “Macron has not the full majority in Parliament” as he had have it the last five years, and see Mélenchon and the LFI (or UP) as the main enemy.Macron said the same thing. Marine Le Pen has been pushed to distant third position.

    If it is “Popular Front” it is one that has as dynamic force who propose the more left demands of the whole, thePC, PS, Greens are subordonates to the political line of Mélenchon. It seems to me a sort of bizarre United Front of petit bourgeois nature that could last if the result is good (I douted much on this) and can explode rapidely if not (or even if the triomph is not as to retain the centrifugal forces of the PC, PS and Greens.)

    The dynamics of this pact are fairly good but not enough, in my opinion, (even the NPA and in some constituencies, Lutte Ouvrière are calling for a Vote for the NUPES or against Macron or LePen) because what they have gained with the PC, PS, Greens, they have lost it with people who are fed-up with the “gauche caviar” as it is widely konw the PS, the Greens or the extreme tourn to the right of the PC.

    That is the picture, adding that the political left in the UP are constitued by the POI (Lambertists) who follows a-critically Mélenchon and some very few individuals who try to pusch to the left has no weight, nowhere. I do not know if Révolution the IMT branch in France is part of LFI or UP but they are but a few students with good analyzes, yes. That’s it there is no real left. It is the task, the perspective or other big word to build but not a reality to my knowledge.

    What is true is that the ideas pushed forward by this individual are accepted easily by theUP militants. I have the feeling that the masses, the militants of the UP, are for a large part, more to the left than the NUPES.

    Will see. The crise of humanity is the lack of a revolutionary party, but not of a leftist party. To separate ourselves from the masses and the new militants could only result in staying at home and critizice from afar, with no touch with the real class fight.

    Dont do that.

  4. The problem is that a Popular Front always does manifest itself as just an Electoral Pact. If it achieves sufficient success it becomes a Popular Front in power. NUPES includes the clearly non-working class Greens. That alone makes it a Popular Front. It also includes the SP which has broken with the working class base it previously had after launching a ferocious attack on the masses under Hollande.

    Effectively Melenchon, by including them in his coalition, has handed part of the mass base he was shown to have by the Presidential Election, into their clutches. But what they fundamentally stand for is already proven by the Hollande government. This is retrogression and we have to draw a line against it in our propaganda.

    We do have to swim against the stream on this. Not in a stupid way in the way the French Sparts used to do when they refused to vote for anyone associated with the Popular Front. Our position is: vote for Melenchon and his party but not for his SP and Green bloc partners in particular. The CP is perhaps an intermediate case and a matter of fine judgement because it is not associated by the masses with large scale attacks on them. This is the same approach as Trotsky had in 1936.

    This does not stop revolutionaries engaging in vigorous activity in support of Melenchon, but selectively based on the party differences. And also issuing independent propaganda about this. We support the Melenchon insurgency that was manifested in the Presidential Election but we have to combat backsliding into class collaboration.

    And yes, Melenchon’s position on Ukraine is bad and he has retreated from many of his post-Maidan positions. But that not why people voted for him in April.

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