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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Il faut tourner la page de cet ancien régime"

by Sébastien Crepel and Max Staat

"We Must Turn the Page of This Ancien Régime"

Translated Wednesday 21 March 2012, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Before a vast crowd, impossible to count, Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for a citizens’ insurrection to usher in "Le temps des cerises" [1].

"Where have we been all this time?" rejoices [2] Jean-Luc Mélenchon, acclaimed by the vast crowd impossible to count. Rapidly climbing the steps to the podium, he salutes the ocean of red flags, the people completely filling the Place de la Bastille. "We have come together here because we are going to turn this election into a civic uprising, by setting a rendezvous at the polls!"

He underlines his conviction, given the incredible crowd assembled on the Place, that the "citizens’ revolution", of which the presidential election is but a step, has now begun. "We will open the breach that all Europe expects from its French volcano."

"Come, the Temps des cerises and joyful days: this is our first message," continues the candidate of the Front de gauche, addressing in the name of the people assembled before him "a fraternal salute to the Greek people, to the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Italians," and "all those who bear on their heads the weight of oppression by the vile Troika" [3].

He renews his commitment to submit any new treaty of the European Union to popular vote, declaring solemnly: "We pledge that if it is we who are called to rewrite the rules of the game by convoking the Constituent Assembly, never again will any delegation of sovereignty be made without consultation of the people by referendum," this to the cheers of more than one hundred thousand people, blocking all further access to the Place de la Bastille.

"We are in the right place on the right day!" launches Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who recalls that "the revolution began here in 1789, proclaiming principles so great that they have become universal: liberty, equality, fraternity". Here also "began the Paris Commune," of which Jules Vallès said: "Place au peuple!", which has become the slogan that the Left Front has adopted, made its own. He continues: "We are here on the exact date, fifty years after the end of the war in Algeria" and affirms: "After the peace of weapons, we must create peace in our hearts!" And proclaims to rising applause: "Where human equality, freedom of conscience, and fraternity no longer reign, France is no longer possible."

He continues: "Looking at a France disfigured by social inequalities, we must turn the page of the ancien régime [4] thus enabling ourselves to refound the Republic."

He returns to the subject that has motivated this gathering at the Bastille, the Sixth Republic. For Jean-Luc Melenchon, "with the Constituent Assembly, we will put an end to privileges, we will restore citizenship in the workplace." The Left Front candidate recites some of the new rights for this new Republic: "Human dignity for all couples," "abortion rights", "right to decide one’s own end," "freedom of conscience and secularism throughout the nation", "no patenting of life forms," "judicial independence", "citizenship by birth", "ecological rules that protect the planet" ...

Finally, Jean-Luc Mélenchon quotes the poet Machado, who wrote: "the path is made by walking." He closes the address by opening a perspective: "Our gathering begins an uprising, I call upon you to begin the People’s spring. Make red the fashionable color. "

Photos by the translator, taken at the start of the march.

For an English translation of the complete text pronounced by Jean-Luc Mélenchon at the Bastille, click here. (Will be available at 20h French time, today (Thursday).)

[1The title of the song having a deep association with Paris Commune (1871), composed by Jean-Baptiste Clément in 1866.

[2At 5 pm on Sunday, 18 March, the anniversary of the founding of the Paris Commune.

[3IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank

[4The "former system" of government, a term referring historically to the monarchy prior to the French revolution, but intended also to point to those aspects of the old ways reinstated under the restoration of monarchy, and even structures and ways of the present government that separate the people from political power.

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