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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La gauche presque au complet

by Ludovic Tomas

Practically all the left-wing organizations participated in the October 18 demonstrations.

Translated Sunday 30 December 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

The political scene. The French Communist Party, For the Social Republic, the Greens, and the Revolutionary Communist League ... all demonstrated with the strikers.

All of the political organizations that joined the march say that the October 18 mobilization was an undeniable success. For the French Communist Party (PCF), the reasons for this success are obvious. “After six months with Sarkozy as president, the people are beginning to understand that his policy is directed against them,” said Nicole Borvo, president of the republican and communist fraction in the French Senate. “People have become aware that the out-and-out attack on the special pension schemes is the harbinger of a total rethinking of the political consensus underlying the welfare state. And the efforts to pit different groups of workers against one another have suffered a defeat,” Borvo, a member of the PCF, said happily. Marie-George Buffet, the national secretary of the PCF, was abroad and unable to participate in the demonstration.

Despite the absence of its founder, the Socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was also on the road, the association For a Social Republic (PRS) also joined the demonstrations and distributed its “pitch” against the government’s counter-reforms. “There’s something going on today. We’re maybe going to hammer a wedge into the log of public discussion,” Gabriel Amard, a PRS member, said hopefully.

“The EADS scandal has turned public opinion around. The scandal has given people the impression that, behind their backs, certain individuals are pigging out,” stated Jean-Jacques Boislaroussie, a leader of The Alternatives. Should there be a thorough-going overhaul of the special pension schemes? The question is not taboo for The Alternatives. But “first the question of the distribution of wealth and the taxing of coupon-clipping capitalists has to be addressed,” Jean-Jacques Boislaroussie insisted.

“The social movement has begun, but it’s still a long ways from having reached all the workers concerned, because beginning tomorrow, the whole retirement system will be under attack,” stated Arlette Laguiller, the spokeswoman for Workers Struggle.

For Éric Coquerel of MARS-Republican Left, “The stakes are important because the government has decided to initiate a test of strength, to beat the trade union movement and to take its revenge for the mass strikes of November-December 1995.”

For the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), the October 18 strike was “a successful first warning to the government but not enough,” emphasized LCR spokesman Olivier Besancenot. “The best guarantee for winning the second round is for the movement to continue, to get bigger and for the strike to continue tomorrow,” the former presidential candidate stated.

It is precisely on the question of how to continue this day of action and the political direction that it should take that nuances, and even divergences, appear among the different left-wing organizations. “It’s up to the workers to decide,” put forward Arlette Laguiller, who nonetheless clearly stated her preference for a continuation of the strike beginning on October 19 or in the very near future. “A 24-hour strike, as massive as it might be, is not enough to make the government back down. Waiting until November to relaunch the strike is not the way to mobilize the workers,” she said.

The French Communist Party also says it is up to the workers to decide. “But, as a Party, we think that it is necessary for the Left to unite in all its diversity in order to work for an alternative. It’s difficult, it’s not something that is self-evident for everyone, but that is the goal of the Communist Party. And today’s mobilization cries out to us to get moving,” remarked Paris Senator Nicole Borvo.

MARS-Republican Left shares this point of view. “The whole Left should be capable, en bloc, of opposing the government,” said Éric Coquerel.

Unfortunately, there was a big gap in left-wing unity, since on October 18 the Socialist Party chose not to oppose Nicolas Sarkozy’s bust-things-up policy head-on.

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