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No Part of the "Front de gauche" Should be Excluded in Arriving at a Candidate for the President

Translated Sunday 9 January 2011, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Derek Hanson

How to achieve coherence between the struggle for unity and candidatures for the presidential election?

by Matthias Tavel, militant supporter of the "Front de gauche".

In a recent issue of l’Humanité on 13 December, several personalities of the PCF [1] signed an open letter entitled "2012: for a rallying together, without erasing the PCF". They explain their approach to the presidential and legislative elections to be held in 2012, and support the candidature of André Chassaigne to represent the Front de gauche on the first ballot.

This text brings with it some good news, and offers us a peek at some disagreements.

First, the good news. The comrades express themselves "in the context of the Front de gauche, affirming that communists have, in that framework, an "historic responsibility". We agree, because it is a question, no more and no less, of bringing life to the Left in France. And we rejoice in seeing that those who criticize "the erasure of the PCF in the Front de gauche" have become convinced of the utility of the struggle for unity.

We should likewise rejoice that they have decided to add to the common pot "the contributions of the PCF" on numerous topics. We are in need of all these energies, and all their competence as party militants, in order to show the real diversity of the Front de gauche.

Another piece of good news, and, contrary to what those authors have written, we take note of the agreement existing within the Front de gauche concerning the role, the mission, and the functioning of the Central European Bank, as they were explained during the most recent European elections, and again during the congress of the Parti de Gauche européen. This is an important point, in this period of austerity dictated by the financial markets, European institutions, and the IMF.

Finally, it is fine to see that the comrades themselves consider the presidential election as a decisive stepping stone, an attitude far from that naive left-wing thinking that would like to refuse the personalization of politics, promoting an insipid and odorless candidature, one that would be "inoffensive"!

Now for the disagreements. The authors of the open letter would like us to think that Jean-Luc Melenchon and his party, the Parti de gauche, lack coherence. The comrades should read carefully the texts of the PG; there they will find a very coherent analysis of the crisis of capitalism and the setbacks of the general welfare and of social rights, with private interests profiting. There they will find propositions that form a coherent whole, aimed at regaining the people’s sovereignty; politically, with a constituent assembly and changes in the structure of the media; economic and social, with new public services, new rights for wage-earners, and changes to the monetary policies on the European level; ecological, with planning to organize democratically the transition toward another mode of development; international, with withdrawal from the NATO treaty, and European civil disobedience.

Above all, these comrades forget another form of coherence. Most important: the form of coherence of the Front de gauche! It is not possible to call for a united front, all the while proposing a method of work that denies it. Considering that "the communists will be heard everywhere during the legislative elections", the authors imply that there will only be candidates of the PCF in those elections, so the diversity of the Front de gauche will not be expressed at all.

OK, the PCF is the main party in the Front de gauche, and as such they would have legitimate priority in the majority of electoral districts. But the comrades demand that the candidate for the presidency also be chosen from their ranks. Summing up this line of thinking, a PCF candadate "everywhere" in the legislative election, and, for coherence, a communist candidate for president. We would have before us the PCF, all alone. And that would be the end of the Front de gauche.

What makes the Front de gauche a force, and renders it useful, is its diversity. This diversity should be expressed. It will express itself in the program, each individual bringing his building block for the edifice. It will also express itself via the candidates. Those who will have the majority of the electoral districts must not also have the candidature for the presidency. While we cannot and should not see the "erasure" of the PCF, we cannot and should not see the erasure of any other component of the Front de gauche. Without these components of an overall force, we will not rally the voters as widely as we wish, in order to "change the entire Left", as the authors write. And to speak of the heart of the Left, and notably of the socialist voters, wouldn’t the best candidate be one who can be characterized as republican and socialist?

[1Parti communiste française

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