Dead Men Left

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Report from the French "no" rally

It helps cut through some of the utter bewilderment that a left-wing "no" campaign has caused in the British media:

The entire French establishment supports the proposed constitution. Over 70 percent of television and radio coverage of the referendum has been given over to those who favour a yes vote.

Their campaign has been seriously thrown off course. Yet the main opposition to the treaty has not come from the extreme right, but from a powerful grassroots movement that has shifted the debate to the left.

This movement is made up of Communists and the left of the Socialist party, revolutionaries, anti-globalisation activists and left wing Greens. Throughout the campaign public sector workers and school students have been fighting the right wing Raffarin government’s attempts to impose the logic of the market on French society.

The conclusion they have come to is that the constitution will make it easier for governments across Europe to do the same.

As Thierry, an activist in the independent SUD trade union, told Socialist Worker on Saturday, the strength of the campaign comes from its link with the movement against privatisation and other attacks — “If the no campaign is victorious it will put the idea in people’s heads that the neo-liberal machine can be stopped.”...

Polls have shown that opposition to the constitution is strongest among the young, workers and the unemployed. Support for it is highest among bosses. Aside from the extreme right, which opposes the constitution on racist and xenophobic grounds, left wing voters are the most likely to oppose it, while those most in favour are the supporters of the two main right wing parties.

Tens of thousands have played an active part in the left’s no campaign. Over 900 unity committees have been set up across France since the start of the campaign. During the last month the left has organised some of the biggest meetings for a generation.

More here.