April 18, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French
To vote or not to vote? And to vote for what? In the first round of the French Presidential elections, a large part of French workers and young people abstained or voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Popular Union party, because they did not want to face the impossible choice between French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Rally Party in the second round of elections. Now people are furious because it still came down to this. People are raging against a system that wants this kind of election. In the days following the first round of elections, students occupied the universities (which Macron immediately closed!) to demonstrate their anger against the electoral trap, and their rejection of a society where the law of money, wars, pollution, misery reign… These angry young people shouted: “Neither Macron nor Le Pen, but especially not Le Pen!” A great slogan!
We’ve already had a Taste of Macron!
Under his 5-year term, the rich and the bosses have gorged themselves, while the working class has suffered. Everything has regressed – jobs, salaries, pensions, benefits – while inflation has galloped ahead. The wealthy and the bosses have gotten tax exemptions and been showered with gifts. The result: the minimum wage is at 1,300 euros per month ($1,411), which some two million employees are not even entitled to, earning even less. Nor does this include the bulk of pensioners, the unemployed, and the homeless! All the while the CEO of Stellantis (a leading French automaker) earns 19 million euros per year, with an additional 47 million euros in bonuses — around five million euros per month!
In addition, Macron’s five-year term included the destruction of the health, education, and transportation sectors. Macron implemented the new global security law that guarantees police impunity in the hunt for migrants and represses organized protests with tear gas and flash-balls. It is understandable that many hate Macron given his policies and his arrogance towards workers and the poor.
But Le Pen is a death trap
The National Rally candidate, Marine Le Pen, is trying to present herself as “the candidate of purchasing power.” A lie! She is promising above all a tax exemption for bosses on wage increases1, which will lead to less funding for social services. And her underling Éric Zemmour (far-right candidate in the French presidential election) is raking the votes in the fancy neighborhoods. Neither of them will allow for an increase in the minimum wage, nor more public service jobs. For both candidates, the focus is “national preference” (a French slogan similar to America-First, which prioritizes jobs for French nationals over foreigners) to flatter the xenophobic and racist poison that tries to divide workers for the benefit of the bosses.
And beware, we haven’t even had Le Pen in office yet! But some countries have tried out her friends: Orban in Hungary, Salvini in Italy, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Trump in the United States. And the result? The poor are poorer, the rich are richer; deadly reactionary ideas have redoubled the number of attacks against immigrants and women’s rights. Le Pen promises to take away public housing and welfare benefits from workers without a French national identity card (a non-compulsory government-issued identification card), and to deport even more exploited undocumented workers than President Macron. Marine Le Pen is a demagogue, who belongs to the world of millionaires, and proposes to be the future president of the rich.
Our strength in numbers and struggles
President Macron seeks to present himself as a bulwark against the far right. On the evening of the first round of the presidential elections, Jadot, Roussel, and Pécresse (French presidential candidates) showed their support for Macron and his rallying cry against the right. It remains to be seen whether he will convince the population. In the first round of the election, many workers put their hope in the presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Popular Union party to escape the trap of this second round of elections. There is still a way for all of us to obstruct this, of course, by not casting a single vote for Marine Le Pen on April 24, but above all convincing ourselves that the vital questions cannot be answered through elections — neither the presidential election nor in the upcoming legislative elections. The future of the working classes has always been played out through class struggles, against exploitation and oppression. Let’s use our immense potential strength to take our affairs resolutely in our own hands, and turn the tables!
Thank you to Philippe Poutou’s voters
Thank you to those who voted for our New Anticapitalist Party candidate, Philippe Poutou, as well as to those who voted for Nathalie Arthaud, of Lutte Ouvrière (Worker’s Struggle). Even if the results of the far-left presidential candidates were low, they represent the votes of nearly 500,000 workers and young people who are convinced of the need to overthrow this capitalist society. In the struggles to come, their weight will count far beyond what they represent at the ballot box.
1. “From 2022, and for five years, as part of a company contract, for any 10% wage increase granted to all employees earning up to three times the minimum wage, companies will be exempt from employer contributions (which are a tax the employer must pay on the amount of wages it pays out, which funds social programs) on this increase,” promises Marine Le Pen.