Location France France

Democratic Independent Workers Party calls to fight back social rights and democracy in France

On 23 April, a fatal blow was delivered to the Fifth Republic. The two parties which for almost 60 years have governed within the framework of its institutions – the Republicans and the Socialist Party – were eliminated in the first round.

A huge rejection has been expressed. Rejection of the El Khomri labour law and the policy of the Hollande government. Rejection of the policies that have been implemented for years by successive governments serving the interests of the capitalists and the European Union. Rejection of the lay-offs, the privatisations, the blows against the Social Security system, hospitals and schools. Rejection of the wars wages against the peoples.

This rejection was expressed in the rate of abstention, which reached its highest level (except for 2002) than every one of the first rounds of the presidential election under the Fifth Republic, especially in the working-class districts. It was also expressed in the vote for candidates who were perceived – at least partially – as responding to that wish to reject, particularly for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Benoît Hamon.

The results show that on 23 April, it would have been possible to take a step towards putting an end to the hated institutions of the Fifth Republic and the European Union. This was not the case.

Workers, activists, youth, you know that for months the Democratic Independent Workers Party has been waging a campaign for unity to put an end to the Fifth Republic and the European Union. Together with workers and activists of other political tendencies and currents, it participated in the constitution of the Movement for breaking with the European Union and the Fifth Republic. It did so in the name of the struggle for a workers’ government that will express on class grounds the necessary response to the terrible situation that is affecting the workers and youth.

As supporters of unity, the POID stated two months ago that as soon as Hamon and Mélenchon both declared themselves in favour of repealing the El Khomri labour law, an agreement between the two candidates on a single candidacy would open up a solution.

Unity was not achieved. The division orchestrated by these two candidates has resulted in a second round between Le Pen and Macron.

Now what? More than ever, winning back democracy and labour rights is on the agenda. Democracy is not the election once every five years of a king without a crown having full powers to strike at the workers and satisfy the demands of the capitalists and bankers. Democracy can only mean something when the people have in their hands the full power to eliminate the rejected institutions and to decide on new institutions.

This involves a Constituent Assembly elected on a fully proportional basis, with deputies who are mandated and subject to recall having the power to take emergency measures to protect the people, to take control of the banks, to ban lay-offs, to confiscate profits and to apply the money collected in this way to a programme of investment and construction that responds to the needs of the people, and to withdraw French troops from every theatre of operation. If democracy has any meaning, this must be a sovereign Constituent Assembly taking into its hands full powers to eliminate straight away, right now, the regime of the Fifth Republic, a regime of personal power.

What has just occurred in French Guiana is seen by all workers as an indication of the path to follow: when the government authorities block and reject the workers’ demands, the mobilisation of the whole working class and the people is the means to force those in power to retreat. What is true for French Guiana is true for the workers in France. It is through united mobilisation that we will make them retreat, whoever forms the government. To contribute to this, it is necessary to build a party.

Workers, activists, youth, do not listen to those who tell you that there is no longer any need for trade unions, that there is no longer any need for political parties. Do not listen to those who counterpose a supposed “general interest” to class interests and claim that the class struggle does not exist. Whatever they look like, those people are leading the workers into a dead-end.

More than ever, the workers need independent trade unions. More than ever, they need workers’ parties to express their interests.

Now what?

Regarding the second round on 7 May, the workers cannot place their confidence in Marine Le Pen, whose programme is above all based on opposing “the French” to “the immigrants”, with the aim of diverting the workers’ legitimate anger away from the capitalists and bankers who are responsible for unemployment and poverty, away from the governments and institutions that are organising unemployment and poverty, and towards their working-class brothers and sisters.

For all that, can Macron be considered a bulwark of democracy? On the evening of the first round, we heard Macron issue emotional appeals for national unity. We also heard the leaders of the right, but also Benoît Hamon and the leaders of the Socialist Party, Pierre Laurent (Communist Party) and Alexis Corbière (Melenchon’s France Unbowed) call for a vote for Macron.

In case we need reminding: Macron was one of the shapers of the El Khomri labour law, and he has pledged that once elected he will strengthen that law and follow through to the end with putting the existence of trade unions into question, and will force the unemployed to accept any job even if this means losing 25 per cent of their starting wage. Macron is Hollande, but worse. He is Sarkozy but worse, he is El Khomri but worse.

Who can believe that a candidate whose programme is the destruction of labour rights, superexploitation and worsening poverty, could be a bulwark of democracy?

The Democratic Independent Workers Party, true to the whole tradition of the labour movement, says: there is no democracy if social rights are rolled back, there is no democracy based on the destruction of the Labour Code and labour rights, there is no democracy based on threatening the existence of the trade unions.

Democracy means defending the guarantees of the working class that were won through and in the class struggle. The precondition for democracy is the independence of the labour movement. It is to serve this struggle that we invite the workers, activists and youth to take part in the open debates convened by the Democratic Independent Workers Party. A new period is beginning, new struggles are on the agenda. Let us organise in order to face these in the best conditions.

One thing is certain: the Fifth Republic has no future and must be swept aside.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *