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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Cécile Duflot : « La gauche souffre de ses divisions »

by Pierre-Henri Lab

"The Left Suffers from its Divisions" says Cécile Duflot


Translated Saturday 7 February 2009, by Alison Billington

The National Secretary of the Green Party, Cécile Duflot, pleads for a more social Europe, and criticises the European Greens’ manifesto on this account — a manifesto her party wants to change.

What views do you hold on the action of France and the European Union regarding Israeli intervention in Gaza?

Cécile Duflot. The shelling of the civil population at Gaza and the blocking off of this Palestinian territory are scandalous. This violent war is unacceptable! This is no time for caution, it is time for the strongest condemnation of their acts. The French government and the European Union must adopt a firmer position regarding Israel. Europe must demand the withdrawal of troops and respect for the United Nations’ resolutions, even if it means taking economic sanctions if Israel resolves not to do these things. It is time too for solidarity with the Palestinians. The Greens have shown theirs by taking part in demonstrations for peace. Just last Saturday we welcomed Hind Khoury, the general delegate for Palestine in France, at the meeting of our National Council.

What do you think of the governments anti-crisis plan?

Cécile Duflot. The start-up plan concocted by the government which backs the beginning of growth and consumerism is not adequate for the global crisis we are going through. This plan will achieve nothing because it does not attack the fundamental reasons for the crisis. Worse, it sacrifices the ecological and environmental stakes. The government is delivering a scandalous message through it, namely that “consuming is a civic duty!” It refuses to bring into question the logic of consuming useless products. For our part, we advocate another type of growth, namely that of living to a higher standard, of education and of health. Not the growth of the GDP!

All the same, the unions, which are calling for a day of united and interprofessional action on 29 January, unanimously reject the decrease of spending power…

Cécile Duflot. We don’t deny that there is a problem with spending power. We think that bringing the logic of consumption back into question is also a way of responding to this. Let’s take the example of the especially high heating bills which our households pay. Launching an insulation programme for dwellings would allow the creation of energy savings good for the environment and also for the Frenchman’s wallet.

How do you react to the latest announcements from the Head of State on the right to strike?

Cécile Duflot. We are opposed to all debate on the right to strike. The President of the Republic wants to silence the voices of social change. These announcements belong to the same logic as the designation of the President of Television France by the Head of State, or the attempt to restrain Parliament’s powers concerning amendments. I am also thinking of the abusive use of antiterrorist legislation. We are face to face with a veritable dictatorial fiat which threatens our democracy. Nicolas Sarkozy wants to stiffle all those speaking against his policy.

Given the consideration of environmental stakes by all political groups, do the Greens still have a reason for existing?

Cécile Duflot. This consideration comes about mainly through speeches. On the Right, it is measured by the experience of what remains of the extraordinary meeting on the environment. That’s not saying much! The government has soon forgotten its committments on this point, as witnessed by the launching of several projects for motorways and airports. The abolition of the post of Secretary of State for Ecology, occupied until now by Natholie Kosciusk-Morizet, is also illuminating as regards the reality of the government’s advertised ecological priority. The Left, for its part, remains deeply affected by concepts of productivity. There can be no ecological policy without ecological leverage. The ecological policy is not just reasoning which prevents all waste. It’s a project based on social transformation and justice which harkens back again to the inheritance of the Left.

Exactly what view do you hold on the Leftist state?

Cécile Duflot. The Left has gone through three successive batterings in the presidential elections. It is time to ask ourselves the reasons for these failures if we don’t want to be beaten again in 2012. I believe that the Left suffers from its divisions which are both ideological and which stem from individual discussion. The Greens want to contribute to the unity of the Left with the ecological policy.

Isn’t this speech in opposition to maintaining candidates in the European elections, like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who have campaigned passionately in favour of a "yes" to the European constitution?

Cécile Duflot. The 2005 debate cannot be picked up again in that way. The referendum of 2005 has been a real trap for the Left which allowed Jacques Chirac to divide the Left at that time. Let’s not put people in dated categories — as it happens, categories of yes and no. I believe that with our approach to the European elections we have succeeded in surmounting these divisions. What is important today is our common, united will to profoundly reorient Europe through José Bové as well as through Daniel Cohn-Bendit. It has become a very sturdy base for us. We want a Europe which is not in favour of the free market, a Europe which is geared to a launching of the economy through a policy favouring public investments which are of use to society. On this point of view we differentiate ourselves from the manifesto adopted by the European Greens. That text is not social enough. It isn’t incisive enough. This weekend our National Council has, moreover, demanded that it be fundamentally changed in time for the Congress of the European Greens at the end of March.

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