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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Européennes, une porte s’ouvre à gauche

by Olivier Mayer

European Elections - A Door Opens on the Left

Translated Wednesday 10 December 2008, by Jeff Skinner

Communist Party of France - Olivier Dartigolles believes that a left front in the European election will open up new hope. The Party congress must clarify the nature and the extent of the changes in the PCF.

“Fortunately, it’s not all bad news!” Soon after [Left Party Senator] Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s announcement on the creation of a new party and the meeting between the Left Party and the PCF scheduled for November 18, PCF spokesperson Olivier Dartigolles yesterday held a press conference. Before supplying his analysis of the developments in the situation on the left and in the PCF, Dartigolles denounced the right’s “brutal and determined plan” against labor rights, in particular the decision to push the retirement age back up to 70 – a decision, according to the communist leader, consistent with the lengthening of the work week and Sunday work. “Sarkozy is avoiding the basic problem, that of wages,” he said. “ ‘Work harder to work more!’ has become his real slogan.” Moreover, Dartigolles noted what is causing the economic crisis, in particular the situation in the automotive industry. General Motors, on the verge of bankruptcy, is demanding 50 billion dollars for a bailout. “That’s half of what the World Bank designates for developing countries,” the communist official noted. “Can we simply talk about a crisis of confidence, or depression, or a bad case of the flu?” he asked. For him, it’s been demonstrated that this is a matter of “a systemic crisis” calling for “a new mode of development”.

The main part of the press conference was dedicated to the situation on the left. Dartigolles echoed “the irritation towards the left in general being expressed in the community as a whole”. Regarding the congress in Reims, he spoke of “doubts, the deep scars that remain, a situation that is not easy for socialists – intolerable, for some among them.” He thinks that Mélenchon and [Socialist Deputy] Marc Dolez have “taken actions consistent with their words”. As for the LCR, he believes that “the meeting of November 8-9 has closed all doors to the possibility of participating in a regrouping process for the European elections.”

The PCF for a “progressive European front”

It was with the objective of the European elections in mind that the PCF and Mélenchon’s new party met last Tuesday. For the Communist Party, these European elections are taking place in “an unprecedented context of the crisis of legitimacy for the current EU orientation. During their National Council the PCF made a proposition for a “progressive European front” and launched an appeal, to progressive forces; the men and women representing these forces; and the syndicalists and associations, for the communal elaboration of propositions and the construction of lists of candidates for the reorientation of the EU. “A campaign of this nature could constitute a major event of great political significance,” claimed Dartigolles, for whom “this is the main battle for the first half of 2009 and the PCF will devote all its forces to it.” “With Mélenchon and others, we want to build this front from the perspective of the European elections; this is not the embryo of a new party. We want millions of men and women to take up the issue of the elections. Europe could be an exceptional lever for a new mode of development.” With last week’s meeting, “this is a hope that’s being built and organized,” Dartigolles affirmed. “We could pull off something big.”

“The Party must be profoundly transformed”

Concerning the PCF congress, Dartigolles claimed that the orientation chosen during the Communists’ assembly deserves to be “updated and deeply enriched.” This will be the object of the sectional conferences, the federation, and the congress itself. He thinks that if the Communists have chosen to carry on with the Communist Party, it is because it is “useful for today’s struggles.” “This is not a conservative choice; the Party must be profoundly transformed. We must now clarify the nature and the extent of these transformations.”

Regarding the direction of the PCF, Dartigolles claimed that “excessive personalization kills political debate. We’re not going to lay it on thick like Star Academy [1]. The Communist Party does not have a recovery problem; on the other hand it needs to rediscover political efficiency in the way it manages things.”

[1Star Académie is a French television show in the Pop Idol/American Idol format.

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