France: A new slap in the face for President Macron

Polling station in France. Image credit: Laurent Cipriani

June 21, 2021, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French

The regional elections were nothing to brag about, with an average of nearly 66% abstention, and more than 80% abstention among young and working-class people. The government parties, whether on the right or left, proclaim this to be “disaster for democracy.” Their disavowal is a clumsy way of hiding from their own responsibility. It is dangerous to give words to this silence; however, while the subcontracting of the distribution of electoral material to the private company Adrexo and its blunders it made may have contributed to a mess in this election, one can guess nevertheless that this silence is above all a mixture of despair, anger, indifference.

Behind the silence is a disavowal of the system

Firstly, this is an electoral failure for Macron and his friends who only obtained 11% of the vote nationwide, despite the reinforcement of resources, ministers and even YouTubers. The President wanted to be a Kingmaker, but he only put on a show: of the registered voters, the government seduced less than 4% of the citizens! A real slap in the face this time.

Marine Le Pen also spoke out against “a civic disaster;” she scolded her voters for not making the trip to the polls, because the regional elections condemned the National Rally (Le Pen’s party) as well. However, let’s not be fooled, the ideas of the extreme right are still alive, and the presidential election may hold other surprises. This is because there are many common points between the National Rally and all the institutional parties that use demagoguery to play on safety and the lack thereof, fear, and racism. Even Roussel, the head of the Communist Party, has made “security” central to his platform, and promised not to be “lax.”

Above all, our lack of safety is social insecurity

While of course there is danger in public housing, it is disrespectful of working people to reduce everything to just to a matter of violence in poor neighborhoods. Firstly, this lack of safety is social insecurity; this seems to have been the main concern of the voters, to the great displeasure of the fear mongers.

On the left, the Socialist Party kept their seats and the Communist Party were just posers. The environmentalists, who put forward ideas that are in fashion, a concern for the planet that is widely shared, did not fare any better. As to France Insoumise (the party of Mélenchon, a Social Democrat) it allied itself with former supporters of President Macron, as in the region known as Pays de Loire, and sometimes went into battle alone, sometimes with the left. In the end, they put forward an illegible plan that was conciliatory with capitalism. This party has not been able to mobilize people.

With a campaign so far removed from the concerns of workers – layoffs, low wages, precariousness – it is not surprising that working-class voters did not turn out to vote.

Lessons, dangers and tasks for the future

The great weariness is obvious, and the similarity of all these platforms did not garner enthusiasm. This is not a surprise. With poverty on the rise, companies laying off employees, and job insecurity exploding along with profits, there is good reason to be disgusted. Lutte Ouvrière’s (Worker’s Struggle) list of candidates have the only platform incompatible with the democracy of the rich; we support Lutte Ouvrière because it clearly defended the side of the workers, and made modest progress.

On the other hand, there is more to this abstention than just sulking. The platform on “security” was a gamble, and it did not work this time. To get their dirty tricks across, the institutional parties need a well-oiled electoral machine, with candidates who are at least somewhat credible, capable of giving the impression of opposing each other, and thus ensuring stability by alternation. This kind of “change” ensures that nothing changes in substance.

But, as the business newspaper Les Échos points out, nothing is going as planned. Here it is, the great fear of the real masters of this country: social unrest! It is up to the workers to disrupt this system. This will happen largely outside the election race and their agenda, and it will finally change the rules of the game.