Dead Men Left

Monday, May 30, 2005

Tous ensemble: non! (Ce n'est qu'un debut, continuons le combat...)

From Galloway's victory, to the resounding French no vote, it's been quite a month for the Left. Never mind May '68 - what about May 2005? In lieu of me assembling anything particularly coherent - it's a bank holiday, for crying out loud - here's some of what the interwebnet has to offer.


The massive defeat of the new European Constitution by the French in today's referendum means a virtual political revolution in France -- a rebellion by the people against the political elites of both left and right. The No vote won by a wide margin of nearly ten points -- the latest figures show 54.87% for the No, 45.13% for the Yes. Despite an overwhelming campaign for a Yes vote by the mainstream French media (including a major pro-Yes bias in TV coverage), and tireless stumping for a Yes vote by nearly all the major political leaders of left, right, and center --  a scare campaign that tried to (falsely) tell the overwhelmingly pro-European French that they would be responsible for destroying construction of a united Europe if they voted against this anti-democratic Constitution -- the French electorate's working and middle classes, by their No vote, rejected the unregulated free-market policies, aimed at destroying the welfare state and the social safety net, embodied in the Constitution.

Today's vote confirms the enormous gap between what the French call "La France d'en haut et la France d'en bas" -- the France of above and the France of below. And this rejection of France's political and media elites will bring extraordinary changes to the country's political landscape.


It is remarkable that the market and competition should be raised to the status of constitutional precepts. Even more remarkable is that even modest boureois principles of democracy should be cast aside - the Council of Ministers is not elected, but it has the powers of the executive and legislative together, so that neither popular sovereignty not separation of powers is respected. The only elected body, the European Parliament, has only limited veto powers and no executive powers to speak of at all. It is remarkable that the parties of the Socialist International (née Second International) have even attempted to flog this undemocratic neoliberal drivel to the voters. Fuck 'em.

Le Monde also hints at May '68 - or at least its consequences - whilst locating the "no" vote within the period of crisis for the French political establishment that was opened in April 2002 (ropey translation below):

Pour l'heure, les résultats du référendum correspondent, du point de vue électoral à un miroir inversé du référendum de Maastricht et à une forme de réplique du 21 avril 2002...

En 2005, seuls les cadres supérieurs et professions intellectuelles ont voté oui (à 65 %, comme en 1992). Les catégories populaires ou modestes ont elles voté non, mais en accentuant leur vote par rapport à 1992 : 79 % pour le non parmi les ouvriers (hausse de 18 points), 67 % parmi les employés (hausse de 14 points). Le basculement se fait parmi les catégories moyennes – les professions intermédiaires – qui votaient oui (à 62 %) et votent désormais non à 53 %, signe du malaise social profond qui touche le pays et souligne le niveau d'inquiétude face à une Europe accusée de ne pas protéger suffisamment les salariés face à la mondialisation...

Avec le rejet d'aujourd'hui, les électeurs renouvellent et accentuent la crise du système politique : les partis de gouvernement, qui étaient les seuls à se prononcer en faveur de la Constitution européenne, avaient réuni le 21 avril 2002 seulement 56 % des suffrages exprimés, soit le score le plus faible de ces vingt dernières années. Les votes extrêmes (gauche et droite), qui atteignaient le record de 30 % des suffrages, participent aujourd'hui quasiment à l'unanimité au vote non. Enfin, plus généralement, l'ensemble des forces protestataires (votes extrêmes, PC, souverainistes de gauche et de droite, chasseurs) représentaient plus de 40 % des suffrages à l'époque ; elles se sont aujourd'hui engagées sans nuance pour le non.

For today, the results of the referendum correspond to an electoral mirror-image of the Maastrciht referendum, and to a replication of 21st April 2002.

In 2005, only the senior managers and professionals voted yes (by 65%, as in 1992). The working classes voted no, but with an accentuated vote compared to 1992 [Maastricht referendum]: 79% voted no amonst manual workers (up 18 points), 67% amongst white-collar workers (up 14 per cent). The swing appears amongst the middle classes - the intermediate professions - who voted yes (by 62%), and now vote no by 53%, signifying the social malaise that touches the country and underlining the fears facing a Europe accused of not sufficiently protecting employees faced with globalisation.

With today's rejection, the voters renew and accentuate the the crisis of the political system: the parties of government, which were the only ones in favour of of the European Constitutions, between them on 21 April 2002 gained only 56% of the popular vote, their weakest score in twenty years. The extreme parties (of left and right), which reached a record of 30% [in 2002], today campaigned almost unanimously for a no vote. Lastly, more generally the whole of the protestors' forces (extremist parties, PC, souverainists of left and right, hunters) represent more than 40% of the electorate at that time; today, they campaigned without nuance for a no vote.

And, finally, the LCR and their spokesman, the "sexiest man in France", Olivier Besancenot.