April 25, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French
Some headlines read “Great Victory for President Macron.” The 58.5% of votes cast for Macron represent a record for the French Fifth Republic,1 but what is most impressive is that a President could be elected with so many votes from people who hate him!
Millions of people who have suffered under his policies over the last five years voted for him to avoid suffering more under Marine Le Pen. They were called on to do so by parties from the right and the left, with direct or thinly veiled appeals.
What a strange democracy – an election of the less worst against the worst! Not to mention the record number of abstentions in this election. “Thank you.” Macron declared in his speech with the Eiffel Tower in the background, “Your vote forces me to take action (“Ce vote m’oblige…”), ensuring that this photo would make it around the world. He would have been better off saying thank you to Marine Le Pen whose nauseating ideas served as a repellent to voters. Now he is not forced to do anything. Fighting the extreme right is up to us, and not just in the simple, biased game of an election.
The rigged game at the ballot box
Macron got 9.7 million votes in the first round of elections: 28% of the voters, or barely 20.5% of the registered voters. Nine million more were added in the second round, mostly from those who were sickened by his policies. In this second round, Macron got the rest of the right-wing votes that did not go for Marine Le Pen. However, these did not count for much – Valérie Pécresse, a candidate who came in fifth in the first round of elections, had a meager 4.8% of the vote. In addition, Macron got the votes from Europe Ecology, France’s Green Party, who had to swallow Macron’s hypocritical statement on the “great debate about environmental transition” and a promise for more nuclear power plants. In the second round, Macron also gathered the votes of workers and young people, who are just as disgusted with the right as the left wing politicians in the government, and either turned their hopes toward Jean Luc Mélenchon (Popular Union Party) in the first round or simply voted for him in order to avoid a second round of elections that pitted two evils against each other: an impossible choice.
In the wake of this second round of elections, all the political leaders, from the extreme right to Mélenchon’s party, are looking forward to the “third round” of elections – the legislative elections of June. These elections would allow them, they believe, if they had enough deputies, to create barriers within Macron’s five term, but they are simultaneously open to becoming Ministers in Macron’s administration. Even Mélenchon, who is working to bring together what remains of the left, is proposing cooperation with Macron’s government. What new trap is being prepared for working people?
If we are against Macron’s policies, it’s up to us to oppose them
These political games likely don’t worry Macron. However, it is the anger of the working classes, and their struggles, that are a real threat to him. During his first five years in office, he first faced the anger of the Yellow Vests (a populist, grass roots movement for economic justice) against the high cost of living. Then there were the employee protests against Macron’s pension reform. He was forced to postpone the reform, even though the bosses supported it, and it had received the thinly veiled assent of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor (one of the five major trade union confederations). The pandemic also put him in the hot seat, revealing the great shortage of hospitals, and the scandal of understaffing and bed shortages.
Also, in the balance sheet of Macron’s first term of office is the growth of far-right ideas – lethal for the workers of the world. Marine Le Pen is counting on votes as unemployment and misery is worsening, and claims “France First.” While Macron, with his incessant tracking of migrants encouraged, and even doubled the nationalist and xenophobic demagogy of the far right.
This “forced” Macron has announced the goals of his new five-year term: notably retirement at 65, and 15 or 20 hours of free labor per week holders of the meagre RSA (known as the active solidarity income) for people receiving meager unemployment or underemployment benefits. While employers, starting with the auto sector, are expanding their restructuring plans and job cuts. All this while the CEOs of the CAC 40 (French stock market index) are double their salaries from one year to the next. Confronting what Macron is promising us, we can’t just let ourselves be used.
1 The Fifth Republic is France’s current republican system of government. It was established in 1958.