Pierre Laurent is the national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), the largest force in the “La France Insoumise” (France Unbowed) coalition that backed left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of the country’s presidential election last month. After centrist independent Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen advanced to the second round run-off, the PCF called for broad unity to defeat Le Pen while also remaining critical of the austerity program pursued by Macron. The following article is an edited version of Laurent’s immediate commentary on Sunday’s result. It was originally published in L’Humanite newspaper earlier this morning.
PARIS – Yesterday evening, Marine Le Pen, the candidate from the far-right National Front was roundly defeated in France’s presidential election. 66.1 percent of French voters refused to elect a head of state who promotes ideas of hatred and division, a nationalist project that is racist and xenophobic, and public policy that is violently discriminatory and belligerent.
The French Communist Party was proud to have worked with resolve to defeat the far right, for we know that the National Front project continues to threaten the democracy of the French Republic and our unity.
But today, we are not in the mood to celebrate. Our country is living through dark days. This second round, once again, sounds a serious alarm for all citizens who feel strongly about protecting our democracy and preserving equality. Marine Le Pen obtained a score of 33.9 percent, which is over 12 percentage points more than her first-round score.
This is the result of the “normalization” of extreme right ideas; we are more determined than ever to fight them. This is also the result of decades of complacent political alternation to the detriment of the pubic interest, and of successive administrations’ betrayal and abandonment of the people.
Tonight, we share the deep-seated anger of the millions of people who felt ambushed by this second round. An ambush organized by the worn-out, perverse workings of the Fifth Republic.* In the future, we do not want to have to be obliged to vote by default to defeat the far right. We never want to see the far right in such a position again.
For this reason, we must build up to the victory of a genuine political change that will free France from the clutches of financial markets, that will put “humans first,” that will attack the domination of finance by granting new powers on all levels, opening the path to a new society of happiness, solidarity, justice, environmental preservation, peace, and equality.
It is not Emmanuel Macron, the candidate chosen by the world of finance and elected president this night, who will follow this path of progressive policies. He wants to commodify everything in society. His election is a feeble one. Millions of voters who cast ballots for Macron were above all seeking to block Marine Le Pen.
In the first round, many voted for Macron in the hope of avoiding a run-off between conservative candidate François Fillon and Le Pen. Only a minority of citizens actually support his program, which promises serious social and democratic regression.
What remains to be done is the construction of an alternative for the social, environmental, and democratic transformation of public policy and the formation of a new majority to carry it forward. As of tomorrow, and throughout the five-year presidential mandate, the Communist Party will be mobilized to push ahead, along with all forces of the left that are willing.
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The announced destruction of the French Labor Code will diminish workers’ rights; we will fight for job security and training to eliminate unemployment and social precarity, by giving employees new powers in businesses and central banks more power over financial markets.
The attack on pensions and the privatization of Social Security have been proposed in Macon’s program through the elimination of social contributions; we will set up a plan to defend and develop Social Security.
Macron has called for a €60-billion ($65.6 billion USD) cut in public spending and the elimination of 120,000 civil service positions; we offer a plan for revitalizing local public services in all fields.
Executive orders are used by authoritarians; we will fight for democratic rule.
We will be present in all battles against the anti-social program Macron is promoting, against the ultra-reactionary projects of the right and the far right.
It is in this spirit that we approach the legislative elections to be held on June 11 and 18. The French Communist Party is fully engaged. No parliamentary majority has yet been formed by any party. In five weeks, our people will have a new opportunity to decide on our present and our future.
On the strength of the votes of millions of citizens for Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of the presidential elections on April 23, and with all the forces that supported his candidacy and those that may join us, we can go far towards electing a National Assembly that will truly represent us and constitute a new majority for action.
United, we can win in many districts. Without unity, our electoral gains will be limited and leave room for more MPs from Macron’s “En Marche!” movement, the right, and the far right. We have a major shared responsibility to voters of the left and from the environmental movement. These voters are eager for a united front.
To achieve this, we need a broad national agreement, fair and representative, under a single banner that unites all: La France Insoumise, the Communist Party, Ensemble!, and the Left Front.
This corresponds to the hopes and aspirations of the majority of voters who cast their ballots for Jean-Luc Mélenchon on April 23. The Communist Party is ready to enter into such an agreement.
In all cases, united we can act to block the National Front’s path in many districts where there is a danger that the party might take firm root.
We can choose the candidate who will maximize our chances of winning in each voting district.
This evening, we are once again sending a solemn appeal to the political leaders of La France Insoumise: it is not too late to reach such a national agreement. We are prepared, if our ambition is not shared, to reach more limited agreements. We call for dialogue across the nation in the coming hours.
Our party has a goal for these legislative elections: Bring the people into the Assembly.
The Communist-Left Front candidates whom we support are from the France of working people, from the public and private sectors, from all trades and professions, union leaders, involved citizens from all walks of life and origins, young candidates bringing a breath of fresh air to politics, as well as women and men of experience who have served in elected office locally.
Let us remain strong and united as of today, to continue the struggle against the far right and push back isolationist ideas.
Let us remain strong and united, engaged in resistance and advancing projects that offer an alternative to the dismantling of social protection and the exacerbation of inequalities that the new president plans to implement.
Let us realize the promise of a new left in France, a promise born in the ballot box on April 23.
* “Fifth Republic” refers to France’s current presidential-centered system of government, which was established by Charles De Gaulle in 1958. Democratic reform of the system was a goal of the Mélenchon campaign in this election.