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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Jean-Luc Melenchon est désigné candidat

by Sébastien Crépel

Jean-Luc Melenchon is designated candidate

Translated Wednesday 22 June 2011, by Henry Crapo, Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

On the 16-17-18th of June the communists made their choice, at 59.12%, of the co-president of the Parti de Gauche to represent the Front de Gauche in the presidential election of 2012. This takes place within the framework of a global agreement including the subsequent parliamentary election and a political program for governing. André Chassaigne received 36.82% of the votes.

A "clear, indisputable, and massive" decision, according to the national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), Pierre Laurent. A "clear vote" that "gives direction to the political dynamics of the Front de Gauche", according to the Parti de Gauche. And "a success for the entire Front de Gauche, says Christian Piquet, spokesman for the Gauche unitaire.

Yesterday morning, all the components of the Front de Gauche celebrated the decision of the communists, which brings to a close a five-month process that began with the "call for candidates" launched by the National Council of the PCF on 7 January [1]. From Thursday until Saturday the communists organized massively (70.25% of members with dues paid and eligible to vote) to designate the candidate who will represent them in the upcoming presidential election.

After long weeks of debate, bringing together about 25,000 communists in assemblies of the sections and federations, 59.12% of those voting (28,251 ballots) finally chose the majority option proposed by the party’s National Council, namely the presidential candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon together with a global agreement for the 2012 elections, including the general election [2], and the “common platform for government policies”. Another 36,82%, though fully supporting the Front de Gauche strategy, preferred to vote for André Chassaigne, communist deputy for the Puy-de-Dôme, while 4,06% made a radically different choice and voted for Emmanuel Dang Tran, an avowed adversary of the Front de Gauche who stood for an autonomous candidacy of the French Communist Party at the presidential election.

The result of the vote very closely reflects the choice made by the National Conference early this month, which cast 63,6% of the votes in favour of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s candidacy.

“This democratic choice, made in full clarity and transparency, can now unite the communists,” Pierre Laurent was yesterday happy to say during a press conference at the party’s headquarters, where he hailed “the deep sense of responsibility that guided all communists in this choice, whatever their preferences were.” By leaving the choice open among all those candidacies present, the form of the consultation had a double effect: permitting the sovereign expression of communists’ views right to the end —
which makes the final decision legitimately irrevocable — but it also effectively contributes to reuniting all communists behind the majority’s choice, whereas it had been impossible to choose a candidate by consensus within the party in the weeks that preceded the vote.

96% in favour of the Front de Gauche

This process has met with full success, since the Front de Gauche strategy finds itself largely confirmed by this week-end’s vote, with nearly 96% of the communists in favour of this strategy, which rests on a global accord between the Front’s component forces.

To André Gérin, communist deputy for the Rhône department, this is “a poor result”, the candidate having been chosen by fewer than 60% of the voters. André Gérin, who had desisted in favour of André Chassaigne, denounces a historical forfeiture and an attempt at writing off the PCF. He was pointing to the decision, unprecedented since 1974 [3], to support a non-communist presidential candidate.

“The communists’ vote is an urgent call to our people,” Pierre Laurent himself declared, and thanked the candidates for standing up for election. To Jean-Luc Mélenchon Pierre Laurent expressed his conviction that together they would make a point of “respecting our diversity and our common commitment.” To André Chassaigne the communist leader expressed the communists’ “respect for his loyal engagement and his ambition” for the Front de Gauche and for the PCF. Then he went over the Front de Gauche’s objectives and the kind of campaign to be fought: ‘to unite the people in this struggle in order to defeat the right, put the Left in the saddle for effective, radical social changes - a collective campaign in support both of the presidential candidate and the candidates to the National Assembly in order to undermine the presidentialism that prevails in politics.

With this aim in view, an elections collective is to be set up, led by a communist, the French Communist Party’s national secretary said.

Christian Picquet salutes the vote

Christian Picquet finds that the result of the vote "is a success for the entire Front de Gauche." According to the spokes-person for the United Left, the Front de Gauche "is a strong assemblage of diverse forces, which gives it a special role in the French public life, and a determination to expand that role."

Christian Picquet insists that the Front de Gauche will be busy making sure of the definitive defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy by "bringing together the conditions for an alternative majority on the Left, and across the nation."

[1See the chronology on page 4 of l’Humanité for 20 June

[2Following a recent change in the French constitution the general election follows the presidential election by one month.

[3when the Communist party supported the socialists’ candidate in the first round of the presidential election.

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