Two Trotskyist Parties Challenge Capitalism in France
By Murray Smith
The united campaign being waged by Frances two largest revolutionary socialist partiesthe Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and Workers Struggle (LO)for the March 21 regional elections is getting a good reception.
On February 6, 3000 people attended the meeting that launched the campaign in Ile-de-France (the region around Paris). The packed meeting was addressed by Arlette Laguiller of LO and Olivier Besancenot of the LCR, the parties candidates in the last French presidential election.
Every week there have been LCR-LO campaign meetings in the main provincial centers and in many smaller towns. Some of the meetings in medium-sized cities have been filled to overflowing.
On February 16, for example, 1100 people came to hear Laguiller and Besancenot in Tours. There have also been meetings of 600 in Amiens and Besancon, 500 in Poitiers, 450 in Strasbourg and 400 in Limoges.
An opinion poll conducted on February 10-11 by the TNS-Sofres institute for the newspaper Le Monde and other media outlets, puts the LCR-LO list with [support amounting to] 7.5 percent [of those polled]. This is a national figure and indicates that the list could break through the 10 percent barrier needed to get regional councilors elected in at least one or two regions.
The same poll shows a combined total of 37.5 percent for the reformist Plural Left alliance made up of the Socialist, Communist and Green parties. These parties are running joint lists in most regions.
The main government party, the center-right Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP), is at 17 percent and its ally cum-rival, the Union for the French Democracy (UDF), at 9 percent [of those polled].
The far-right National Front (FN) of Jean-Marie Le Pen is currently credited with 15.5 percent, which is roughly what the FN received in the last regional elections in 1998.
The LCR and LO have been taking maximum advantage of (all-too-rare) invitations to take part in TV debates. On February 23, Besancenot confronted Marine Le Pen, who is being groomed as her fathers successor and presented as the human face of the FN, on prime-time TV and radio.
Besancenots aim in accepting to debate with Le Pen was to cut across her partys attempts to appeal to working-class voters on social issues and show that its economic and social program is the same as the program of the employers organization MEDEF. He succeeded in putting Le Pen so much on the defensive that she was reduced to regurgitating the usual stale old anti-communist jibes.
While taking advantage of every opportunity to gain mass media coverage, with no rich backers or powerful allies in the media, the LCR-LO campaign will be relying on hard work on the ground, in the workplaces and neighborhoods, to get its arguments across.
Green Left Weekly, March 3, 2004