FRENCH bourgeois democracy, and with it French capitalism, is ‘sick’, and both are in a huge existential crisis. On Sunday, a record two-thirds of voters refused to turn out and take part in the first round of the French Regional and Departmental elections.
The turn-out collapsed by a massive 16 points compared to the last regional election held six years ago. Attempts to blame the coronavirus epidemic have already been dismissed after 17 per cent of respondents to an IFOP poll said the pandemic played no part in their decision not to vote.
The slap in the face for the French ‘bourgeois democratic’ set-up followed on from the physical slap in the face that was delivered to President Macron just a week before the voting began. This new ‘French disease’ has been described under the press headlines that ‘French democracy is sick’.
Emmanuel Riviere of polling institute Kantar stated: ‘The political options on offer have become so hard to tell apart that they give the impression that political life is a sort of shadow theatre, where politicians are more interested in getting themselves elected than in solving the issues voters care about.’
The implications for next year’s French presidential election are obvious. Riviere predicts that voters could end up repeating what they did in 2017: ‘In electing Macron, they chose an upstart outsider as a mark of protest against the political establishment.
‘Both he and Le Pen continue to position themselves as outsiders railing against a broken political system, but the current dynamic could benefit an unexpected third personality – although it’s unclear at this stage who that could be.’
Many French workers and youth now consider that Le Pen and Macron are not outsiders at all but represent 100 per cent support for a bankrupt French capitalism that many workers want to see the end of.
In fact, the low turnout in Sunday’s election marked the beginning of the end for President Macron. In one region, a list led by a Cabinet minister and including the high-profile interior and justice ministers, won only nine per cent of the vote – and turnout was just 33 per cent.
The election also showed that Macron’s main argument to encourage people to vote – to stop the far right – has lost its potency: Voters didn’t turn out for him even though polls were wrongly predicting strong support for Le Pen’s party.
During Macron’s term, two out of three elections have seen record rates of abstention, with the notable exception of the European parliamentary election in 2019.
Le Pen hasn’t fared any better. Her candidates in the most important areas did significantly worse than six years ago, despite the party’s ideas on security, Islam and migration permeating much of the mainstream debate in the media.
In fact, there are only two forces that can take action to end the current political crisis in France. The first, for the ruling class, is the army and the militarised police forces who have publicly declared, on a number of occasions, that France requires a strong hand at the helm.
Many French workers consider that the French capitalist state is preparing another Gaullist-type coup to overthrow the Fifth Republic – De Gaulle, in May 1958 in the middle of the Algerian War of Independence, organised a military coup that overthrew the Fourth Republic and brought in the Fifth.
The current crisis could come to a head if the second round of the elections is cancelled for next Sunday on the fake grounds of the Covid 19 crisis.
The second, and the only force that will really change history, is the working class. Yesterday tens of thousands of French workers, members of the CGT marched on and through Paris. The CGT union federation, announced: ‘energy employees will march on the capital to defend their vision of the common interest and of the public energy service.
‘They are mobilising to defeat two projects wanted by the authorities and carried by the departments which purely and simply propose the dismantling of (public energy services) EDF and Engie. One year of health crisis will have been enough to make as many people as possible aware of the place and role played by public services in our country.
‘Even damaged by decades of austerity, deregulation and privatisation, they have been essential in cushioning the consequences of the social crisis. Beyond that, they appear more than ever as an essential lever for social and territorial cohesion and economic development.
‘Not learning any lessons from the situation, the government accelerates its work of destruction, in a hurry to erase any reference to these common goods which still partly escape the laws of the market.’
The French working class must take general strike action to bring down Macron and organise for the working class to abolish the Fifth Republic and bring in the Workers Republic.
Throughout Europe the class struggle is now raging. The way forward is to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International to smash the European Union and replace it with the United Socialist States of Europe.