Socialist Worker

Danger has not gone away

Issue No. 1799

THE SECOND round of the French presidential election on Sunday saw the expected landslide victory for the Tory Jacques Chirac. He got 82 percent of the votes against 18 percent for the Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen. The election result shows the limits of Le Pen's support.

However, complacency about his vote would be catastrophic. In the first round of voting two weeks ago he got 4.8 million votes-17 percent-beating France's Socialist Party prime minister, Lionel Jospin, who was eliminated as a result. Jospin and his Communist Party coalition partners saw their number of votes slump.

Their five years in office had demoralised millions of working people. Le Pen, and sections of the media, had talked about the possibility of him winning the second round run-off of the election. That was never on the agenda. The vast majority of people in France reject his message. Le Pen was also opposed by France's ruling class.

The Medef bosses' organisation called for opposition to Le Pen in the run-off. French capitalism is not in the kind of crisis that would push its bosses to risk backing a Nazi like Le Pen to unleash a frontal assault on workers. Le Pen has been soundly beaten in the run-off, but his vote was still his highest ever.

He got 5.5 million votes, around 500,000 more than the combined score of himself and fellow Nazi Bruno Megret in the first round. Le Pen's National Front hopes to translate that vote into gains in the parliamentary elections in four weeks time.

In many areas of eastern and southern France Le Pen topped the poll in the first round of the presidential election. He wants to win parliamentary seats there in June. The left in France is facing challenges and dangers. Almost all the left wing parties in France fell in behind the call for national unity behind the Tory Jacques Chirac last Sunday.

He will now seek to use his victory in the election to push politics sharply to the right. Already on Sunday night Chirac was talking of right wing policies on crime and immigration. If the left echoed this, politics would again be pushed to the right. Chirac is no bulwark against Le Pen.

The Tories will, if needed, make deals with the Nazis in the parliamentary elections, as they have repeatedly done over the last 20 years. The parties of the 'plural left'-the Socialist Party, Communist Party and Greens-who have been the government for the last five years hope to recover some support in the parliamentary elections.

Even if they manage to do that, the danger is that they will offer more of the dismal policies which led to Le Pen's breakthrough. There is one great hope amid all this.

Revolutionary socialist candidates got almost 3 million votes, 11 percent, in the first round of the presidential election. Many of those who voted for the far left would not have voted at all if its candidates had not stood.

Some could even have been fooled into voting for Le Pen, who hid his Nazi face in the election and railed against big business. The millions who voted for the far left can be the basis of a force offering hope to millions more who are disillusioned with the mainstream parties. The demonstrations against Le Pen in recent weeks also show how to beat back the Nazis.

They point to the kind of struggles that can explode whoever forms a government after June's parliamentary elections.

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Sat 11 May 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1799
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