Victory to the Nouveau Front Populaire – the New Popular Front

By Najete Michell and Paul Taylor

President Macron has dissolved the French National Assembly and called for a general election on Sunday, 30 June, with a second round a week later in seats where no party wins more than 50% of the vote.

The outcome of these elections will echo beyond the borders of France.

A victory for the Nouveau Front Populaire – the New Popular Front – will inspire the left, the working class and the oppressed everywhere.

A victory for Le Pen will lead to a dangerous increase in the exploitation of the French working class with more racism, increased attacks on democracy, the rights of workers, women and other oppressed groups. It will also strengthen the far right and whip up racism, across Europe.

The end of Macronism

Macron seems to have expected that disunity on the left would once again push voters to turn to his party to stop Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) from forming a new government. He also had hopes of repeating his success of winning over further parts of the Socialist Party and the Les Republicains (LR) – Conservative Party.

But Macron’s electoral manoeuvre has only vindicated the law of unintended consequences. His plan to save his presidential programme and win a parliamentary majority lies in tatters. The European elections and the opinion polls strongly suggest that a new parliament will see his party have fewer MPs than today.

Previous talks by some in the Socialist Party and the Communist Party of a realignment with Macron’s En Marche party without La France Insoumise has stopped for the moment.

The traditional conservative party, Les Republicains (LR), the heirs of De Gaulle, Chirac and Sarkozy is bitterly divided with both wings hostile to Macron.

In short, Macronism is finished. The question now is what will replace it?

The New Popular Front

Macron’s dissolution has unleashed a rapid realignment of French politics and exposed the deep fissures in society.

Macron’s gamble has opened the door to the serious prospect that the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) – led by Marine Le Pen – will form the next government.

Faced with this danger, the left has united in a New Popular Front (NPF) with a single candidate – chosen from La France Insoumise, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Greens – to stand in every constituency in the first round.

The Popular Front and its programme was agreed this week at breakneck speed as Macron chose to call the election at the shortest possible notice, hoping that his rivals to the left and the right would be divided in the election.

The creation of the New Popular Front (NPF) represents a significant defeat for all those who wanted to marginalise La France Insoumise and its politics of total opposition to austerity and racism, alongside its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The programme of the New Popular Front marks a complete break with Macron’s economic policy to increase the rate of exploitation of the working class, summarised in his insistence that the French people ‘must work harder.’ It has a timetable of measures to reverse Macron’s transfer of wealth from labour to capital and the rich, including repealing Macron’s decrees to raise the retirement age and his unemployment insurance reforms, increasing the minimum wage, extending workers’ rights and increasing taxes on the rich.

The NPF commits to fighting against all forms of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia. The NPF will also repeal Macron’s asylum and immigration laws and increase the rights of asylum seekers and migrants.

It also calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and enforcement of the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and an embargo on arms deliveries to Israel.

The far-right danger

It is not inevitable that the RN will form the next government. In the recent European election, the RN’s 31.5% vote was only 16.5% of the registered vote – an increase of 4% since 2019.

An increase in the voter turnout in urban areas, amongst youth and in the quartiers populaire has the potential to defeat the RN.

The danger of a far-right government has become more likely after the split in the conservative Les Republicains (LR). The right of the party, led by Éric Ciotti, has unilaterally formed an electoral pact with Le Pen. For the moment, it is not clear how many LR MPs will support his pact. Ciotti has said his group will vote in parliament to give the RN a parliamentary majority. That vote could tip the balance in the national assembly. The multi-billionaire Vincent Bolloré brokered the deal. The Bolloré group controls large parts of French news media and has large investments in West Africa.

The RN’s prospects have also been boosted by the decision of Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine Le Pen, the lead candidate of the small far right Reconquête Party in the European elections, to unite with it in an electoral pact.

Strategy and Struggle

Creating the New Popular Front (NPF) is the key first step in defeating the RN in the general election. Implementing the NPF programme will also unleash a new wave of class struggle as it will be bitterly resisted by big business, the billionaire media and all sections of the right, including Macron’s party and the RN.

If the far right were to form the government, the class struggle would also deepen, as would the mass resistance.

The political strategy of the NPF and the parties that compose it will be tested. Only a strategy that consistently defends the interests of the oppressed as a whole and proposes an alternative that improves the lives and the power of the many will succeed.

The role of la France Insoumise

France Insoumise (LFI) has consistently been attacked by Macron, the far right, the billionaire media and others because it has fought for the policies included in the NPF programme.

But for the political campaigning of LFI, the left would be much weaker than it is today.

In the 2022 presidential election, Mélenchon with 22% of the vote, narrowly missed reaching the second round and knocking out Le Pen. On the initiative of the LFI, a left coalition NUPES, was formed to contest the subsequent general election, winning 131 seats.

Without the NUPES coalition, the left would have been reduced to a tiny rump in parliament. Macron’s programme of austerity, including extending the retirement age would have sailed through parliament with the backing of the RN.

Macron’s scheme to reconfigure French politics exclusively as a fight between the right led by him, or his anointed successor, against the far right would also have been consolidated.

Class struggle

Macron’s goal is to make the working class and the oppressed pay for the regeneration of French capitalism. Le Pen and the RN do not represent a challenge to that project. The RN has supported the economic attacks on workers. Its PM designate Jordan Bardella has already said he will not repeal the increase in the retirement age.

Macron’s use of racism to divide the working class has paved the way for the growth of the far right.

He has also helped pave the way for the RN by undermining democracy. He has exploited the undemocratic nature of the Fifth Republic’s constitution and its often-called Presidential Monarchy. Macron has repeatedly used presidential decrees under Article 49.3 to force through policies rejected by most of the population. He has also undermined the right to protest with lawfare and police repression.

For the moment, the bulk of the French ruling class prefers Macron to Le Pen. But if the choice is Le Pen or the left, it will support Le Pen. The legitimisation of Meloni in Italy, echoed by international capital and many leading mainstream politicians indicates the extent of support Le Pen / (RN) would receive.

In the weeks ahead an almighty class struggle will unfold in France. The victory of the Nouveau Front Populaire (NPF) in the coming general election will represent a huge leap forward for the working class and the oppressed.


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