France – Elections Are Over, But Our Anger Is Not!

Image Credit - Bob Edme

June 28, 2021, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French

More than 65% abstained in the second round of regional elections in France. Once again, the pundits commented above all on the rate of abstention. After the first round there were criticisms of “bad citizens” who had not made the effort to vote. Now, following this second round, commentators are trying to show an understanding of the abstentionists and to seek explanations for voters’ lack of interest. From the malfunctions in the delivery of electoral mail, outsourced by the Post Office to the company Adrexo, to the psychological shock of a year of pandemic – anything served as a justification for the voters’ disavowal of the election.

Macron feigns indifference

The La Republique en Marche party (centrist party of President Macron) and Rassemblement National (far-right party, National Rally of Marine LePen) kept repeating that these were only local elections, but this campaign had all the makings of a presidential election rehearsal.

The day after the first round, although the presidential party only got 7% of the national vote, President Macron advertised his casual attitude as he welcomed the pop star Justin Bieber to the Élysée Palace (official residence of French president). This time around following the election, Macron did not go to Disneyland, but instead went to the Douai, a region marked by unemployment and massive abstention, to praise the electric battery factory industries.

Defeat for Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, had scolded her voters for not coming out to vote in the first round. Following the second round Le Pen was more cautious, and thanked those who had made the effort to vote. However, despite the pathetic results of the National Rally, we should not be misled: the ideas of the extreme right are still with us.

During these regional elections, all the institutional parties used 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.”

All of these parties are chasing the extreme right and contributing to the spread of poisonous ideas. They are trying to sow division and hatred in the working class. However, if the record abstention rate is any indication, these demagogic themes did not make it to regional elections. These ideas are only brandished to make people forget the real problems of the working classes.

Above all, our lack of safety is social insecurity

To the great displeasure of all these fear mongers, it is undoubtedly social insecurity that is the population’s main concern. After more than a year of pandemic, with layoff plans and company closures piling up, and with poverty on the rise, people are very worried about the future. At the same time, shareholders’ dividends are exploding.

There is good reason to be disgusted.

Let’s take back the initiative… and fight!

But abstention is not enough as a means of protest.

We will have to take to the streets again to oppose the injustices of this capitalist system, and defend ourselves against the foreseeable attacks.

Macron announces that while we wait for the presidential elections, this will not be a lame duck year. Clearly, he is thinking of going back to the drawing board with the pension reform, by pushing back the legal retirement age to 64. The announcements on the Social Security deficit, deepened by the pandemic – and the profits of research labs, tell us that we will again be asked to pay the bill. And, again and again, job cuts have been announced in many sectors, such as the automobile foundries, even as economic activity and profits are on the rise.

The government is hesitating because it is caught between two fires – the need to show its electorate and the bosses that it is taking back the initiative, and the fear of reigniting a dynamite stick – social struggles. The abstention disrupted their well-oiled electoral system. But it will soon be forgotten.

It is by our social anger, outside the electoral race and its agenda, that we will change the rules of the game.