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by Patrick Apel-Müller

The Postal Service. Vox Populi.

La Poste. vox populi.

Translated Tuesday 3 November 2009, by Alison Billington and reviewed by Henry Crapo

At least two million people took part, and an overwhelming majority voted ‘No’. The French are against changing the status of the postal service. The government is determined quietly to go ahead. We all know that the government’s bill is the prelude to privatisation, to the coming of postal wildernesses and to the disappearance of its function as a public service. Goodbye, service-users, hello customers ! Adieu, cheques from personal accounts, bonjour financial operations. The scenario is running smoothly. At GDF, [1] which Nicolas Sarkozy swore to God would not be privatised, and at France Télécom, with the destructive social situation created there, we have already seen the costs of proceeding in this way…

The extent of the participation in this citizens’ vote, like the rally of a group of more than 60 union, political or associative organisations bears witness to the place the postal service holds in the hearts of the French. It is one of the foundations of the social contract, a pillar of the French system. And that’s why the determination of the free-marketeers who covet a new opportunity for profits in the postal service is focussed on it.

This consultation has more than a symbolic value. It tests in a big way the constitutional reform of July 2008, which paves the way for a referendum stemming from the democratic right to petition if a fifth of the MPs and one tenth of the electoral body demands it. That’s the case now! But government powers are careful not to enact organic laws which would make this presidential engagement possible. The Right only likes referendums when they ratify its operations, as on Saturday in Ireland. When they go against the government, as in 2005 in France and two years ago in Dublin, government never stops violating the people’s will. The government has little conception of democracy.

Everything converges to make clear the choice of public opinion. From the poll that we published last week in our newspaper, which showed that 75% of the French would vote ‘no’, to yesterday’s Parisian poll where 59% of the French demand they be consulted, and ending in the yesterday’s rallies even in small villages. What belongs to the community cannot be stolen by the combination of dark interests without some possibility for the people to express themselves. The rearguard operations of the Right to prevent the use of
administrative appeals have not sufficed, and the pale diatribes of Christian Estrosi, [2] attempting to disqualify this consultation, have remained with out effect. Nicolas Sarkozy can’t shy away from the difficulties any more. The right to speak must return to the electors in the last analysis.

This powerful demonstration of democracy this week also paves the way for other rallies that could make Sarkozy’s policy fail. Militants of diverse origins have strived together to achieve this result. They have leaned heavily on the network of leftist mayors, being essentially socialist and communist. The lesson can be applied to other struggles. Access to health, employment, spending power, the threat of the taxation of compensation for accidents at work, the fate of the rail freight, the destruction of 34,000 civil service jobs, teaching... Subjects will not be lacking in the coming months.

[1Gaz de France – a company which produces, transports and sells gas

[2French right-wing politician and MP; supporter of Nicolas Sarkozy

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