ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Visages de ce front populaire
by Testimony gathered by Thomas Lemahieu
Translated Monday 26 March 2012, by Bill Scobleand reviewed by
Democracy, labor, ecology ... Some reasons for voting Mélenchon, for people whose paths we crossed in the procession Sunday between Nation and Bastille ...
Between Nation and Bastille, Sunday, unprecedented in the choir of 120 000 people gathered at the call of the Left Front and arriving from around the country, l’Humanité wanted to hear why and how, for the overwhelming majority of participants, the vote Mélenchon had established itself as the "useful" vote for all.
For me, yes, it is the useful vote, simply because, when I look at the political proposals that have been developed, those of the Left Front are the only ones that seem to me to be coherent, concrete. They offer a different kind of society, are not small modifications of liberalism, as proposed by Hollande. Today, we are here to demand a modernization of democracy, a change of Constitution, and for me they are really the only ones that head in that direction ... I’m an unemployed ecologist, I have done research on biodiversity, and the like. And I am a former ecologist; I joined the Left Front because the Greens are completely off base.
Photo : Stéphane Burlot (placeaupeuple2012.fr)
This is a novelty, it goes up, it goes up, the useful vote... for Mélenchon! You feel it in the open-air markets, people encourage us. As I am retired, I have more time than others; I also work for the comrades still active, who do not always have the energy to participate actively ... It must be something going on, it’s very clearly in people’s heads. And it’s something like that, this vote for the Left Front. Useful for the left because you have to pull everything to the left! It will be useful, even for François Hollande, because it will pull him to the left, if he really wants to hear what voters and people are saying in the street!
People aren’t willing any more to put up with politics as run for many years both by Chirac and by Sarkozy. They’ve had it up to here! Today the question is no longer that of the "useful vote" in the sense that we have heard for such a long time. We must move on and dig deeper. I work in health services, I am delegate of the CGT union at Henri Mondor Hospital in Creteil. We won, you may recall, a great battle to save the heart surgery department, but now the neurosurgery service is threatened! Initially, it was a losing battle, but we won by getting everyone together! This is a lesson that applies even in politics, to some extent: the useful vote involves bringing together the voters, the way it works within the Left Front!
"If you’re not nunuche , vote Méluche!" Well, my sign, in fact, it’s an uncle who made it, but I like the message, it’s direct. It’s is our image, happy! I just turned eighteen, I’m a high school student in the last year of social and economic studies, and I will vote for the first time: that counts. ... I obviously do not have all the arguments, I’m too young, but in our course we study the limits of capitalism, and I can see that Mélenchon’s program could permit us to get past them!
We will not rewrite history, but isn’t this a bit like in 1788? At the time, there was a movement against hunger, against submission to power. Like today, there is an exceptional mobilization, not just in the neighborhood of the traditional electorate of the Left Front parties ... This spills over to a great extent. With a candidate like Mélenchon, with such great oratorical ability, we ask questions, share our thinking. We manage to do what I waited and hoped for for years: to challenge, enlighten and force the people at large to react! When we place ourselves at the level of Europe, unable to stem the crisis and guilty of a headlong rush, leaving people to be crushed as in Greece, we can expect that there is in France a greater political maturity. This is why our vote may also be useful beyond the country itself, for all Europe!
Le Havre (Seine-Maritime)
I’m sorry for all those who believe this, and there be many such people around me, but I do not think it is politics that change the world. In life, I’m cavalier, even though it’s very hard to live this, and I just joined the movement of the Indignés, which is apolitical ... I’ve never had strong convictions, and never, up until now, participated in a great combat ... For me, Mélenchon does not present himself as a supreme savior, but he is the best by far, precisely because he proposes to people that they take democracy back in their own hands: that people get back in the street, defend their claims in a more democratic society! No other politician has such a message, and for me it is essential, we must reclaim politics, life, democracy!
You have to take into consideration the history of recent decades. When the radical left has weighed in enough, it has been able to obtain interesting and significant social advances. When it was too weak, we saw the damage, the concessions to the bosses! If you try to please everyone, it opens up in the center and finally, we find ourselves on the right! If we want change, if we want no new disappointments for workers, for the popular classes, for youth, place a useful vote in the first round, vote according to its expectations! (i.e., the expectations inherent in the useful vote. Ed.)
Aurélie et Julie (8):
It’s very simple: Mélenchon really defends the ideas of the left ; Hollande, that’s not a guy from the left, he’s a social democrat who pulls the PS to the right ... And we, we are people of left, we vote Mélenchon, and that’s it! The Left Front has managed the feat of bringing together all those who have real convictions on the left! We’re all here, and that means something. I am a teacher, it’s personal, it is to defend my working conditions and also the public service that I will vote Mélenchon. He is the only one correctly to defend two key priorities like education and health: without education, our country has no future and, without health, we can not make savings. We all have preposterous situations in mind: I heard the other day on the radio that at the Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital, they lack sheets ...
There is no photo-finish on the left: Mélenchon, himself, really wants to change things, and he has made consistent proposals; Hollande gives the impression that he is just there to mend, to patch up, and does all this according to his interlocutors or polls ... Since the Front national is far behind, not threatening, we get beyond our fears and concentrate now on ideas. We can not change the situation without a real social project!
Annie et Christian (9):
I will vote Jean-Luc Mélenchon because he represents a hope, a huge civic leap forward. But I don’t ask myself if it’s useful or not. Anyway, it’s obvious, it is a question of manifesting the citizens’ will for a radical change in the situation we face. In recent years there have been many demonstrations to defend pensions and national education, but in these marches, there was a form of resignation. I found them sad, these parades, not always but often. Here we are, instead, with real hope, momentum, gaiety, with youth - even if we are no longer quite young ...
The usefulness is to be able to show the Socialist Party what it might be able to do if it were to come back really to the left ... The people of the left are here, and are not resigned!
Juliette et Anthony (10):
I was not a big fan of Mélenchon. I had some apprehensions, but they have been lifted. Anyway, we do not really have a choice: when we are on the left, we don’t find ourselves at all, or at least not completely, in the Socialist Party ... Also, I’m only twenty-two years old, but I have a master’s degree in political science at Nanterre, so I would not like to say anything stupid, but it has been a long time since there was, on the left, someone with such talent, such breadth, capable of bringing together so many people ...
This is the first time in years that the left has found its way back to the front of the stage. And that is useful, no doubt! There’s something going for a real left that offers alternative solutions ...
Through technical education, I gained access to higher education ... So obviously it matters, but it’s not because Jean-Luc Mélenchon was minister of professional education that he is my candidate ... it is part of the landscape, but what is really at play is, first and foremost, the program, that of the left Front! Public service must play an important role in vocational training. This is essential!
Antoine et Jean-Sébastien (12):
Who’s the enemy of finance? Hollande? Come on, let’s get serious, I do not think so, not at all! In order for the banks to be not so free as they are today, it’s for Mélenchon that we must vote!
The aim with the Left Front is to pull all the ideas to the left. And after the election, we must not stop. Me, in my vote, there is a part that’s utopia, and that’s why it’s useful: I want a more egalitarian society!
I work at the La Hague nuclear plant, so this may sound contradictory, but I’m not at all embarrassed by Mélenchon’s proposals on energy ... Everything is not resolved in the Left Front, but we talk : the nuclear industry serves us, but we must allocate energy production differently, promote renewable sources ... and you have to decide now because later it will be too late!
Christelle et Nicolas (13):
While all the other candidates are involved in economics, Mélenchon positions himself relative to much more fundamental values, human values. Others speak of technical matters, he is on to the future, to projects, solidarity ...
His personality is impressive, he knows how to speak, to listen to the people. He is there for our children ...
Actually, it is already quite a long time since we had any demonstrations. This is really the person and the discourse of Mélenchon that gets us out into the street, with all our signs made in three hours on a Friday night. We said: "This time, we go there for our children!" We’ll be forty this year, both of us. Now! It’s going to have to change, and fast!
 If you’re not stupid, ...