French elections open up struggle for socialist revolution

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THE RESULT of the French Presidential election on Sunday saw the right-wing centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, winning with 65.5% of the vote beating the leader of the neo-fascist National Front party, Marine Le Pen, who secured 34.5%.

This victory for the ex-merchant banker and former economy minister under the previous Socialist Party government of Francois Hollande, doesn’t disguise the fact that both Macron and Le Pen are hated by the vast majority of workers and young people in France. This is revealed when the figures for the number of abstentions and spoiled ballot papers are taken into account.

The figures reveal that more than 20 million people voted for Macron while 10.5 million voted for Le Pen. However 12 million abstained (26% the highest recorded number in French Presidential elections since 1969), while three million left their ballot papers blank and a further one million spoiled theirs (12% of the votes).

In other words Le Pen actually ended up in third place after the millions who refused to vote for either candidate. All the predictions made by the bourgeois press that young people and workers were turning to Le Pen were shown up as complete rubbish.

The undeniable fact is that the vast majority either abstained, spoilt the ballot papers or put their cross against Macron, not in support of his pro-EU and pro-capitalist policies but to stop the neo-fascists from winning. The crisis gripping the capitalist system of Europe is finding an acute expression in France where the old bourgeois order has collapsed, with the two main parties that have dominated the 5th Republic, the Socialist Party (PS) and the right-wing Republican Party, being kicked out in the first round of these elections.

What was of crucial significance, was that in the first round of these elections Jean-Luc Mélenchon, standing on a socialist programme of anti-austerity, withdrawal from the EU and for the extension of workers’ rights, secured 19.65% of the vote and came within two percentage points of beating Le Pen and so facing Macron in the final run-off.

That a candidate who openly proclaims himself to be a revolutionary socialist can in a very short space of time come from nowhere to win such massive support, demonstrates the revolutionary tide that is gripping French workers and youth. This has been seen since the days following the first round, with millions of youth and workers holding mass demonstrations and rallies across France demanding ‘we don’t want Macron or Le Pen.’

This revolutionary situation in France will reach an explosion point very swiftly. Macron, who made a point in his acceptance speech of ‘reaching out’ to Le Pen’s supporters, faces the job of trying to impose on the working class even more draconian cuts and reforms to the labour laws that the hated government of Hollande tried to implement and which brought it down so dramatically.

Indeed Macron, as his economy minister, was responsible for drawing up these very plans under the instructions of the, predominantly German, bankers. These include cutting France’s massive national debt which has shot up to 90% of GDP, nearly double what it was ten years ago, by smashing the country’s welfare spending while at the same time ending all legal protection for workers from unfair dismissal and ending redundancy packages.

This will drive up unemployment, already standing at over 24% for youth, and complete the destruction of France’s industrial base while protecting its banking and finance sectors. This election has solved nothing for the crisis of the French ruling class and the bourgeoisie of Europe, it will sharpen the class struggle to the point of revolution.

French workers and youth have had enough of capitalist crisis and are demanding a revolution in order to secure any future. This revolutionary wave is sweeping the whole of Europe including Britain with workers defying their old leadership and moving rapidly along the road to socialist revolution.

This revolution demands a revolutionary leadership and the decisive issue today is the building of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to lead the fight to overthrow capitalism and advance to the United Socialist States of Europe.