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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Relancer la contre-offensive à la rentrée »

by Frédérique Mimoun

“Relaunch the Counter-Offensive After the Holidays”

Translated Sunday 24 August 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The activists of the French Communist Party are seizing the initiative all summer long to prepare the ground for the counter-attack in September. Selling the Fête de l’Humanité sticker is a way to make contacts.

No break during the summer for the left in preparing for the return from holidays. “Do you know the Fête de l’Humanité?” This is the question asked by the communists, who are increasing their efforts to sell the sticker, the well-known support voucher which allows one to attend the festival. The goal is to broaden dissidence with the greatest possible number of citizens at La Courneuve on September 12, 13 and 14, and to show that it is possible to change the course of events.

In Paris on July 23, activists met at Stalingrad square to inform the people strolling to Paris-Plage. “With the law on immigration, we can see that the Fête will be a key moment for relaunching the counter-offensive after the holidays,” explains Elie. Sticker sales have their importance: “We have to send in the money as quickly as possible so that the Fête can be prepared in the best possible circumstances,” emphasizes Emilie, after a young woman buys two stickers from her. The activist hopes that in September “everyone will be rested and we’ll be able to start again on a good foundation,” referring to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s July 22 statement.

“To be useful to all, to re-establish contact and solidarity among people”

A few days earlier in Saint-Denis (a northern suburb of Paris), the profits from the festival of the local French Communist Party newspaper served to buy entry tickets for local people who cannot afford to buy one themselves. And they can’t afford it for good reason – for lack of a real left-wing government policy, life is becoming harder and harder, as was reported by the participants in a debate that kicked off the festival.

But hope is never far off, either. “Everything seems to be compromised, the situation in the hospitals is explosive, but at the end of September a united action is scheduled,” notes Agnès, a nurse. “I imagine that elsewhere, too, there are little gleams of light,” she adds.

Philippe Caro, who was elected to the city council a few months ago, paints a not-very-bright picture. “People are suffering so much that they can no longer manage to envision coping otherwise than individually.” So he expects his party and the Left Front to do “work to re-connect with a sense of the collective.”

Later, Souad recounts that she made a point of coming because she deplores the fact that “the National Front made such gains in the last elections” and because she regrets that her “neighbors don’t give a darn.”

The goal that has been set is meant to take the opposite line: “to be useful to all at all times, to be useful in public and private life, to re-establish contact and solidarity among people.” This spirit of fraternity, which infuses the Fête de l’Humanité, was to be found a short distance away in Montreuil (an eastern suburb of Paris) on July 19-20. A bowls tournament, with Fête de l’Humanité posters and stickers where everyone could see them, enlivened one of the neighborhoods on the initiative of the communists. “Folks in the neighborhood come to amuse themselves and they get to know us,” Patrick said happily. “As a plus, that allows us to talk about our struggles and the Fête de l’Humanité,” Arnaud explained, before tossing his pétanque ball. The stakes are high because, “when, in the Seine-Saint-Denis département, fewer than half the people leave on holiday, these convivial initiatives are essential and are highly political.”

“There are people that you’ll never get to come into a hall to talk politics, and yet today we’re talking politics,” added Nicolas, another activist. Over the July 26-27 weekend, the French Communist Party is taking the initiative in Montreuil to organize a day at the sea-side, as it will also do in Paris in early August. Something to bring a little sunshine to people’s lives.

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