Nobody knows when there will be a referendum in France on the European constitutional treaty. But the debate is already raging because the traditional left is divided. The Greens’ first vote gave 45 percent for yes and 22 percent for no, while 31 percent abstained.
The most probable outcome will be a definitive yes, although there is a significant opposition from left wing Green activists.
Members of the Socialist Party (SP), the social democrat—or more precisely the social liberal party— were waiting this week for the results of an internal referendum.
It is really hard to forecast how SP members will vote. Opponents of the constitution do not include only left wing groups and the usual minorities in the party, but also Laurent Fabius, the former prime minister, and his supporters. For a long time Fabius has been seen as the symbol of the SP’s evolution towards liberalism, and the rapprochement between reformism and big business.
Many people think that the party’s very recent opposition to the constitution is insincere.
And worse, its arguments against the constitution are weak because approving the constitution is the logical conclusion of the politics followed by all social democrat leaders—including Fabius—when they were in office.
Anyway, its risky decision to oppose the constitution reveals the strength of opposition to the treaty and, more broadly, to the capitalist direction of the European Union (EU), both among socialist voters and people in general.
This situation may offer an opportunity for a real political crisis of neo-liberal Europe to develop.
But, on the other hand, there is a lot of political confusion due to the fact that very different—and opposed—political currents are in favour of a no vote for opposed reasons.
That’s why it is very important to develop a popular campaign that shows practically how the European constitution is a step towards a Europe made for bosses and shareholders, not for working people. The alternative is not withdrawing to old national states but building a new internationalism based on workers’ solidarity.
The European constitution carves in marble neo-liberalism and kneels down in front of the free market—that means more layoffs, more unemployment, more “working poor”, and more attacks against public and social services.
The European constitution also strongly suggests increasing military budgets and putting European armed forces under the rule of NATO.
The constitution denies any rights for immigrants and asylum seekers.
Against that Europe, built for the benefit of multinationals and corporations, it is necessary to propose a democratic Europe based on the extension of social rights, a peaceful Europe that will withdraw from NATO, a feminist Europe that will allow free access to abortion even in Portugal, Ireland and Poland where it is still forbidden, a Europe of solidarity open to immigrants who have equal rights including the right to vote.
Along with the French Communist Party, activists from the Green Party and the Socialist Party, and trade unionists, the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire is involved in a national appeal called “Defeat the constitution in order to build a different Europe”.
In different towns, united coalitions are already being built on the basis of this appeal. Public rallies are being organised even though the date of referendum is not yet known.
In the campaign the anti-capitalist and revolutionary left is playing a prominent role because it is able to show the links between the struggle against the constitution and various struggles over social issues, such as the so called reforms of pensions and social and health services.
Another important point to underline is the necessity of an international campaign against the European constitution. It must be clear that this campaign is not based on narrow minded nationalist ideas but on genuine internationalist solidarity.
This weekend, different parties and movements from the European anti-capitalist left, including the LCR (France), Scottish Socialist Party, Left Block (Portugal), Red and Green Alliance (Denmark), Socialist Workers Party (England and Wales) and many others, will meet in Amsterdam in order to adopt a common position against the European constitution and discuss common initiatives, such as international rallies in the main capitals of Europe, to build the campaign.
For a long time bosses and the right wing parties which serve them have adopted a coordinated position and action about the building of the EU.
It is time for the left to take up the challenge and show both that a different Europe is possible and that a different left is necessary.