by Marie Dupont
Already six nationwide demonstrations since 7 September have taken place against the proposal to increase the pension age in France. This social movement is not declining. The government is now described as ‘autistic’ – refusing any dialogue and re-iterating on and on that it will not move one inch in favour of the mass movement demands.
In France in September there were two days of strikes, each with around three million people, demonstrating against the French government’s new pension Bill. Fifteen days later, on 2nd October, another demonstration took place with new social layers joining in. As the demonstrations were on a Saturday this allowed people who can’t go on strike to express their rejection of the pension scheme. Again, there were about three million demonstrators all over France. The strength of the protest has therefore remained intact, and a new phase has opened up with the proposal of unlimited strikes for the next national day of action which is to take place on Tuesday 12th October.
Photo marcovdzSix months ago it would have been impossible to imagine such a huge mobilisation in France against the raising of the legal retirement age from 60 to 62. When the National Committee for the Demands of Retired Workers decided to launch a campaign against the new law it had to confront a big media offensive launched by the government explaining that because the population is living older, it is no longer possible to pay for their pensions.
By Marie Dupont The second round of the French regional elections confirmed the defeat of the right wing parties. Indeed it was a historic scale of defeat. With 35 per cent the right received its lowest share of the vote since 1958. The left received its highest share, 54 per cent, in the same fifty two year period with the sole exception of the presidential elections in 1988. The left won 21 regions and the right only one - Alsace. But the analysis of the results is more complex than that of a simple shift of votes from right to left. At the presidential elections Sarkozy received 53 per cent so where did all his votes go? In the constituencies where he had achieved a high vote, abstention was high and/or the National Front made a good score. It is also important to note that in 2007, 84 per cent of the population participated in the ballot, that is there was a 16 per cent abstention rate, whereas in these elections the rate of abstention was 54 per cent at the first round and 49 per cent in the second. This shows big disillusion with Sarkozy and particularly his policies. A recent opinion poll found that 71 per cent wanted him to change his policies. But the damage is more serious than that: some traditional strongholds of the right were won by the left, for example in West Paris.
By Marie Dupont
Last Sunday, 14 March, the first round of the regional elections in France saw a big shift in favour of the left - although there was a 52 per cent abstention rate. The Socialist Party won 30 per cent while the ruling UMP of President Sarkozy received 27 per cent. However in the second voting round the UMP will have no allies, while the Greens, who won 12.5 per cent and the Front de Gauche (Left Front), which won 7 per cent will call for a vote for the Socialist Party. The election overall therefore saw a big rejection of Sarkozy. The second major feature of these elections was the growth of the extreme right wing National Front (NF) which won 11.7 per cent. The NF will not call for a vote for the UMP in the second round of the elections - in the 12 regions where the NF received more than 10 per cent of the vote.
First published: July 2007Le projet de Nicolas Sarkozy au moment de son élection était tout à fait clair. Lorsque les USA ont lancé leur offensive en Irak, trois des quatre principaux gouvernements européens ne l’ont pas soutenu, la France, l’Allemagne et la Russie. Seule la Grande Bretagne a activement collaboré avec les forces américaines. Bien que l’opposition de ces puissances européennes ait été essentiellement verbale, cette division au sein même du camp impérialiste a incontestablement renforcé le mouvement anti-guerre au niveau international et dans une certaine mesure, bien que très restreinte, la résistance en Irak.L’administration américaine s’est alors fixée comme objectif central d’en finir avec ces gouvernements européens qui ne l’avaient pas activement soutenue. Il fut d’abord accompli en novembre 2005 avec le remplacement de Schroeder par Merkel. L’élection de Sarkozy en France en est la seconde étape.
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