LO and LCR: Left-wing Props of the Popular Front

The following comments on developments after the first round of the French presidential election are excerpted from reports circulated within the International Bolshevik Tendency. See also our 19 April statement on the election Class Politics & the French Elections—Break with the Bourgeoisie! No to Popular Frontism!

24 April

“The following is my translation from an article on LeMonde.fr on Royal’s speech to 9,000 people in Montpelier:

“‘Ségolène Royal thanked ‘from the bottom of my heart’ the candidates of the left and the Greens who on the night of 22 April declared in favor of ‘gathering around my name,’ with ‘a special thought’ for [the presidential candidate of the ostensibly Trotskyist Workers Struggle (LO)] Arlette Laguiller who was given a long ovation; Ms. Royal recalled that it was ‘the first time’ since 1974 that the candidate of LO called to vote for the PS [Socialist Party] candidate in the second round of the presidential election.’

Le Monde is mistaken on one detail—LO in fact called for votes to the popular-front candidate in the second round in 1981.”

26 April

“Today’s Le Monde reports that Ségolène Royal has made an overture to ‘center-right’ UDF [Union for French Democracy] candidate François Bayrou to back her in the second round, and has implied that some sort of coalition government could be established. (Bayrou has yet to comment.) Other leaders of the PS (e.g. Michel Rocard) had, before the first round, suggested an alliance, but Royal and her team tentatively rejected the idea. Now that it is clear that Sarkozy will win the presidential election if Royal does not receive the support of Bayrou, the story has changed. This article reports Royal’s warm thanks to Arlette Laguiller, and notes that the audience burst out into chanting ‘Arlette with us!’ The article states that Royal also thanked Olivier Besancenot [of the ostensibly Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist League (LCR)] and others at that meeting, and claims she personally phoned them to thank them and let them know that the union of the left must be as large as possible to prevent Sarkozy from becoming president. The reformists of the LCR should be happy to know that Royal has promised that ‘their ideas will not be forgotten in the presidential pact.’ Perhaps a Prime Minister Bayrou will be personally responsible for implementing them....”

28 April

“José Bové, [a radical farmer nationalist] had earlier indicated he would not take a ministerial post in a ‘neo-liberal’ PS government (though left it vague whether he would support such a government); Royal’s intention to commission him to lead a study on ‘globalization and food sovereignty’ suggests that the way is being paved for precisely that. In any event, it’s one more petty-bourgeois component of a popular front that Royal is trying to broaden to include the right-wing UDF.

“The LCR earlier announced that it wants to discuss with the PCF [French Communist Party], LO and the Bové camp, presumably to prepare some sort of electoral bloc for the legislative elections. The PCF leadership and right wing, and now Bové, would rather go with the PS. There could be some sort of reorganization of the French left in the coming period: the PCF is in crisis; leftists in the PS will be upset by Royal’s overtures to Bayrou; the PT [Workers Party—led by the prominent ostensible Trotskyist Pierre Lambert] ranks must be wondering about the call for a new workers’ party; some in LO are disturbed by the quick and firm support their leadership has given Royal; and the LCR is likely just as divided as before (and Bové’s shift to the right might complicate that). It is unclear what, if anything, is going to happen, but stay tuned.”

30 April

“The meeting with Arlette Laguiller that Royal spoke about would be a first for LO. The French daily, Libération, reported it a couple days ago [28 April]. The news was greeted with incredulity by LO members on a public discussion board.

“Royal has also made overtures to the LCR. Reuters reports that Royal said she agreed with the LCR’s main campaign slogan (‘Our lives are worth more than their profits’). Royal, as I reported in a previous email, phoned Olivier Besancenot. Here is a translation of a short news item that appeared in Libération:

“‘Olivier Besancenot (4.08% of votes in the first round) received a telephone call Monday from Ségolène Royal. “She congratulated Olivier on his campaign, [and] said she was ready to see him. And [she] proposed that he participate in public meetings and in a commission to enrich her program with some of our propositions,” recounted an amused Alain Krivine, his spokesman. The LCR candidate responded: “There is a total incompatibility between us!” For the LCR, “Royal’s belly-dance with Bayrou is a logical extension of the PS’s social liberal drift. We agree that it’s necessary to go looking for Bayrou’s voters, partly because radical leftists voted for him, but to imagine a government with a right-wing leader who is an accomplice of Sarko is disastrous and risks encouraging people on the left to abstain,” Krivine estimated. That will not change the LCR’s recommendation—nor those of José Bové’s partisans—to vote against Sarkozy on 6 May.’”

2 May

“In today’s Le Monde interview with Ségolène Royal, the PS presidential candidate leaves open the possibility of making François Bayrou of the bourgeois ‘center-right’ UDF her prime minister. She also demonstrates how Arlette Laguiller’s support is, in a small way, facilitating this grotesque courtship. On the LO candidate, Royal says: ‘She is popular and held in high regard. I mentioned her name at a meeting and she was given an ovation. People who are consistent, who have a principal ideal and don’t let go, are very endearing. I didn’t go see her to ask her anything at all. Just for the pleasure of meeting her and thanking her. I want a France that has rallied together, and not confrontation between the French.’”

5 May

Le Monde [5 May] reports that at a 3 May rally for Ségolène Royal in Lille, Jacques Delors, former PS minister and twice president of the European Commission, evoked the ‘social movement, the heirs of Marx and Trotsky’ to push for a Royal vote while also favoring the ‘opening’ toward the right-wing UDF. Bourgeois politicians Christiane Taubira and Jean-Pierre Chevènement looked on politely. I’m reminded of Lenin’s observation in State and Revolution:

“‘During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the ‘consolation’ of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.’

“This dupery has been facilitated by the LCR and LO—left-wing props of the popular front.”

Posted: 05 May 2007