Socialist Worker

An exciting opportunity for the left

Issue No. 1954

Olivier Besancenot

Olivier Besancenot

The vote will have a major impact in France. The Tory prime minister Raffarin was sacked on Tuesday of this week. President Chirac announced a new government in an attempt to calm the situation.

The new prime minister is Dominique de Villepin, who as home secretary just announced a new police force to track immigrants. The neo-liberal hard man Nicolas Sarkozy will also help lead the government.

Many feel it is Chirac who should resign. He called this referendum to regain legitimacy. Instead he is totally discredited.

The key question is what is the alternative on the left? Millions have decided that the current Socialist Party leadership has gone too far in embracing the market.

Early on in the campaign Sarkozy and the Socialist Party leader, Francois Hollande, appeared together in the magazine Paris Match.

The dividing line on the left is for or against neo-liberal capitalism.

The Socialist Party leadership, part of the Green Party and the CFDT, a big union, all campaigned for a yes vote.

The no campaign was built through left unity over the major issues, such as public services, pensions, housing, democratic rights and peace.

The meetings were of historic proportions — thousands crowded in to hear the speakers of the movement up and down the country.

Over 1,000 local committees and collectives were formed. These will continue, building the resistance to neo-liberal politics. A national meeting will take place in the autumn.

Calls have been made for a European convention and a constituent assembly, and these proposals could be on the agenda of the next European Social Forum in Athens.

The question of a political alternative in Europe and in France will also be discussed.

The Communist Party has called for meetings to discuss a left alternative. There is an important debate developing within the party. This reflects a wider debate in the movement.

People are asking whether an alliance with the Socialist Party is acceptable for the 2007 election. The rank and file of the Communist Party have had enough. Millions of workers think the same.

They could turn towards a left anti-capitalist alternative. But this means breaking with the traditional parliamentary configuration of the French left. It is unlikely that the leadership could do that.

However, a significant minority in the committees, the Communist Party and the trade unions would be ready for such a break.

Working class hopes are focussing on what Marie-George Buffet and Olivier Besancenot will do now. This is the opportunity that the radical and revolutionary left has been waiting for.

The possibility of breaking with French Blairism is very real. This is the test with which the revolutionary left is confronted. It has to rise to the occasion.

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