The results of the first round of regional elections confirm the gravity of the political situation in the country. Following on from the European election, the Front National (FN) is building on its position as a leading political party, with a majority that will amount to some 30% following the results of the regional elections on December 6.
Its beliefs, the way it runs things in the towns where it is in power and its liberal-populist agenda explicitly threaten the French republic’s values of equality, liberty and fraternity.
The threat of seeing the Sarkozyite right/the FN win the majority, and perhaps even all 13, of the regions next Sunday is now a real one. This would be a catastrophe with dramatic consequences for the country’s people and its political dynamics. The FN drew upon additional voices among all voting bases, particularly among young people, employees and people in intermediary professions (voters who are in favour of the traditional right).
The wholesale and now structural mistrust of how an increasingly flawed democracy works and anger over broken promises, over commitments that are no sooner made than abandoned, continue to grow. Successive governments have continued to apply increasingly strict austerity policies for the past 10 years, against the wishes of the majority of the country, applying them increasingly ruthlessly and culminating in a rejection that nothing can now stop.
In the last few months, the Sarkozyite and centrist right, together with socialist leaders, have endlessly taken positions that have effectively cemented the Front National’s place at the centre of political life.
By making stopping the FN their primary objective, attempting to ward off the FN and hold on to their own regional power, they hoped to win the vote of voters who want to stop the FN from gaining power over state institutions. Without making any suggestions, or putting forwards alternatives.
The rise of the Front National – appearing as it did as an alternative to the ‘system’ – has been further fuelled by this rejection.
A few weeks ago this bleak outlook finally forced the socialist party (PS) to propose mergers between its lists and the Sarkozyites for the second round of elections (a suggestion that Sarkozy turned down)! At a total impasse the night of the first round, the PS decided to withdraw from the second round so that votes for the ‘Republic’ would not be diluted by voting for a number of different candidates, and instead vote for the candidate at the top of the list (from the right, for example), with the sole aim of blocking the FN.
The outcome of this will be victories for the right or the FN, which will manage their regions without the slightest opposition from the left, because the voting system does not allow lists that have not won 10% during the first round to stand again during the second round. Lists with candidates from the Left Front (FdG) only achieved 10% in one exceptional case. This means that without the alliances of the PS and Greens/FdG lists in the second round, there would be no left-wing presence in the final round.
The lists to which the forces of the Left Front and the citizen and ecologist forces were committed have worked to try another approach, against austerity, and for solidarity and the shared progress of humanity. The votes they won were not enough; they do not represent a real alternative, nor do they fill the gap left by the ineffective PS, but it is a spring board for the battles ahead and in particular in the face of the Herculean challenge of the new political era that is upon us, which will be building a new united left.