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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Théâtre d’ombres à Strasbourg

by Editorial by Patrick Apel-Muller

Strasbourg’s Theatre of Shadows

Translated Saturday 25 July 2009, by Kieran O’Meara and reviewed by John O’Neil

The curtain has fallen decisively on the European elections. The vote-strike which led to 60% of French voters abstaining has been forgotten! The professions of faith which were to lead to a greater focus of attention on the Strasbourg parliament have vanished into thin air! The combative election promises of certain candidates have been buried. The first meeting of the European deputies on 14 July turned out to be a day of dupes. Jerzy Buzek, the former Polish prime minister, was elected chairman of the assembly with a vote which was worthy of a banana republic from the first round. An Atlanticist, an ultra-freemarketeer calling for endless privatization, a man who associates immigrants with criminal activity, everything about him is a source of disquiet for progressives. His only opponent was Eva-Britt Svensson from Sweden, a member of the GUE to which the Left Front belongs. The Socialist and Green deputies, however, voted for her conservative opponent. Was it for the meagre reward of some seats on a few committees? On the other hand, for the first time in its history, no member of the GUE sits as vice-chair on a parliamentary committee. It seems there is a high price to pay for honesty and courage within parliament’s four walls...

So how can one judge the game played by the chairman of the Socialist group, Martin Schulz, who yesterday judged Manuel Barroso "ineligible" to seek re-election as head of the European Commission? His principal bone of contention with Barroso was not his neoliberal views but that "he is willing to be elected by British Conservative euro-sceptics", - the very people who, let us note in passing, could end up chairing three parliamentary committees if the set up favoured by the Party of European Socialists is approved, according to certain sources. Moreover, the former prime minister of Portugal is supported by his socialist friends Gordon Brown and Jose Luis Zapatero, precisely because of his economic points of view. And as far as the communiques issued by Daniel Cohn-Bendit are concerned, demanding that the German Social Democrats "state clearly whether or not they are voting for Barroso", they can be seen for what they are when you have in mind that he is prepared to offer support to either a Belgian neoliberal or François Fillon as leader of the European Union.

All this trivial politicking cannot be very attractive to our people, and in particular to left voters, who can rightfully feel cheated. It will add further tension to a political climate already poisoned by lay-offs and sell-outs. What holds true in Paris is no longer accepted in Aix, where the Socialist Party allied itself with the Mouvement Démocratique [1] and won nothing as a result. Some Socialists openly entertain the hope of scuttling their vessel and setting forth in the galley of an American or Italian style Democratic Party. For the Left, it is high time that all of the issues be put on the table, from the financing of retirement to public institutions, from wages policy to taxation, from public services to attitudes toward Europe, without forgetting of course the possibilities for collaboration and alliances. The question has become highly pertinent. "Unity cannot be born of confusion", wrote Jaurès in 1904 about a Left tearing itself apart. Such a crucial debate cannot be confined to the political apparatuses. It must take place in the open, among the citizens.

[1The Democratic Movement (Mouvement démocrate, MoDem) is a centrist, social liberal and pro-European French political party that was founded by centrist politician François Bayrou to succeed his Union for French Democracy (UDF) and to contest the 2007 legislative election, after his strong showing in the 2007 presidential election. (Wikipedia)

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